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University of California Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 

Society of California Pioneers Series 

Margaret Avery Rowell 

With Introductions by 

Irene Sharp, 

Bonnie Hampton, 

and Galen Rowell 

An Interview Conducted by 
Suzanne B. Riess 

Copyright (c) 1984 by The Regents of the University of California 

All uses of this manuscript are covered by a 
legal agreement between the University of California 
and Margaret Avery Rowell dated January 11, 1983. 
The manuscript is thereby made available for research 
purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publish, are reserved to The 
Bancroft Library of the University of California, 
Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted 
for publication without the written permission of 
the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University 
of California at Berkeley. 

Request for permission to quote for publication 
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History 
Office, 486 Library, and should include identification 
of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated 
use of the passages, and identification of the user. 
The legal agreement with Margaret Avery Rowell 
requires that she be notified of the request and 
allowed thirty days in which to respond. 

Copy No. 

Margaret Rowell hiking in Yosemite National Park, 1968 

by Galen Rowell 

TABLE OF CONTENTS Margaret Avery Rowell 


INTRODUCTION, Margaret Rowell s Teaching, by Irene Sharp ill 

INTRODUCTION, Margaret, by Bonnie Hampton xii 

INTRODUCTION, Family Outings, by Galen Rowell xvi 




Childhood Memories 1 

Singing Within 5 

Right-Left Orientation 6 

Father, Adventurer and Educator 7 

Pris cilia Avery, Sister 11 

Albert Palmer, and Plymouth Congregational Church 13 

The 1916 Yosemite Family Trip 18 

Harold Avery, Brother, and Marriage to Betty 19 

The Yellowstone Family Trip 20 

Margaret s Oceans, and Mountains 23 

Flowers, and Botanical Science 26 

An Evening with J.B.S. Haldane 28 

The 1933 Alaska Trip, Margaret and her Father 29 


First Musical Impressions, Madame S chumann-Heink 33 

Introduced to the Cello, 1914 35 

The Arion Trio is Formed 38 

Playing for the Soldiers, World War I 39 

Playing in Hotels, and Mrs. Morris 40 

Joyce Barthelson, Pianist and Arranger 43 

Francis Wiener and Josephine Holob, Violinists 47 

Dressing to Perform 49 

Trio Music and Programming 50 

Issue of Purism; Phrasing in Modern Music 52 
The 1915 Exposition, and the Musicians Who Came to San Francisco 56 

Horace Britt, Cellist, and Teacher 61 

Performer s Fears 62 

Demanding College and Rehearsal and Performance Schedule 63 

Choosing an Instrument, Cello Pedigrees 65 

Young Don Weilerstein, and Musical Families 69 

Edward A. Steiner, an Influence 
Edward G. Stricklen, and the Music Department 
Tri-Delt Sorority Trauma 
Guidance from August Vollmer 
Prayer Group 

Meaningful Communication Through Music 

Social Studies 84 

Antonia Brico 85 

The Development of Cello Study, and Pablo Casals 87 

The "Great Natural Players" 89 


The Terrible Hiatus , A .^uberplQS is r 91 

Rethinking Life, and Re learning the Cello 96 

NBC, San Francisco, and KGO, Oakland 99 

Careful Programming 103 

Leonard Rose, Scared Stiff, but a Perfect Performer 105 

Mother s Last Years 107 

A Trip to the South Sea Islands with the Trio, 1934 108 

Across the Bay in 18 Minutes, with Cello 113 


Ingredients: Motivation, Intelligence, Triumph 116 

Gerard Leclerc and Ron Crutcher 122 

Margaret Rowell s Sense of the World of Rhythms and Flexibility 124 

Using the Back in Playing the Cello 126 

Ingredients: Determination, Taking Responsibility 129 


The Standard School Broadcasts 132 

Carl Rhodehamel, KGO Little Symphony Conductor, and the UXA 135 

Concern for Social Issues, Upton Sinclair 137 

Ed Rowell s Class in Public Speaking 140 

An Earlier Meeting with Ed; Marriage 142 

Helen Keller 145 


Marriage, Chamber Music Playing 147 

Teaching Teachers of Cello 149 

Mr. Suzuki Visits 151 

Suzuki Workshop, Illinois 152 

Suzuki Pro and Con 156 

Writing Prelude to String Playing, with Paul Rolland 158 

Operation and Recuperation 160 

The "Basic Points" 162 

Cooperation from a Student s Parents 164 


Roger Sessions, and John Sessions 166 

Charles Gushing, David Boy den, Marjorie Petray, and Ernst Bloch 167 

Ed Rowell s Eyesight Fails, Operations 169 

Other Names from Music Department History 172 

Colin Hampton, and the Griller Quartet, 1948 173 

String Quartet 177 



Yosemite One Snowy June 179 

Ed Rowell s Background 186 

A Royal Audience at Yosemite 187 

The Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship 191 

Ed, Margaret, and Galen 196 
The Faculty Wives Peace Section, anii i tii 1 e : ea r ce- Tlovement, World 

War II aini.*Ia b.T 198 

Friendships 203 

Galen Rowell, Growing Up 205 

Ed s Last Thoughts 212 

April Mud Slides, 1958 213 

Duets with Dr. Einstein 215 

Thelma Yellin 216 

Worrying, Sharing Experiences with Friends 218 


Goals in Teaching 221 

The Master Class Experience 222 

Bonnie Bell Hampton 223 

Paul Tobias 228 

Digression: Music for the Cello 229 
Cathy Allen, Scott Kluksdahl, Gerard Leclerc; William Pleeth, 

Leonard Rose, Pierra Fournier 233 

Einar Jeffrey Holm 235 

The Video-Taping, and Sophie Pau 237 

Carol Morrow 238 

San Francisco Conservatory s Ranking in Music Schools 241 

Peter Shelton, and Auditioning 242 

Ken Pinckney 244 

Sally Kell 247 

Joel Cohen, Becky Rust 251 

Chamber Music in Berkeley 253 


Dance, Connections and Movement 256 

Pablo Casals at Berkeley 257 

The Rostropovich Party 260 

Mstislav Rostropovich at Berkeley 261 

The 1959 Casals International, at Xalapa 263 

The Judges, Judged 264 

A Story about Rostropovich at Xalapa 266 

Dr. Leo Eloesser 267 

More on Rostropovich and Xalapa, 1959 269 

Cello Club 271 

Cello Popularity 274 

Flying Around, 1965, 1966, 1967 276 
Teaching at Mills, San Francisco State, University Extension, 

and UC Berkeley 279 

Kurt Herbert Adler, Henry Cowell, Madi and Ernst Bacon, and 

Julian White 283 

Flying Around, 1970s 288 

Grand Dame du Violoncelle: Bloomington, Indiana, 1983 291 

New York: Hoff-Barthelson, and Paul Tobias 296 

Everest from the China Side, Without Oxygen 300 

Nick Anderson, and Fine Old Friends Continued 304 
1983 Pomona Cello Institute, .Berkeley Visitors, and Bellingham 

Trip 306 

Family Traits: Margaret /and Galen 311 

Two Last Thoughts 314 


p ;T<.~ 


: >c <t 

INDEX 335 





The purpose of The Society "of Calif ornia^Pibfieers is the collection, 
preservation, and proper maintenance of historical material of all kinds 
relating to the early days of San Francisco ancT Calif ornia. We have since 
our founding in 1850 taken upon ourselves the responsibility of preserving 
the records and relics that are indispensible as ties binding the past to 
the present and future generations. Further contributing to this ambition, 
The Society in 1977 initiated an Oral History Series. The intent of the 
Series is to preserve the recollections of men and women prominent in their 
respective fields whose achievements, knowledge, and expertise form a 
significant contribution to the history and progress of California. They 
record in permanent form the continuation of the traditions o f California s 

These memoirs have been created by a grant from the James Irvine 
Foundation. James Irvine, 1968-1947, was the son of a forty-niner, a native 
of California, and Director and Vice President of The Society of California 
Pioneers from 1928 until his death. Through the James Irvine Foundation he 
left an enduring legacy to the people of California. 

This fifth Oral History in the Series, related by Margaret Avery 
Rowell, is concerned with a subject that is underdocumented and yet central 
to San Francisco Bay Area cultural history and that is music. Margaret 
Avery Rowell 1 s study of cello began when she was fourteen, at Oakland 
Technical High School. Within two years she was one of the Arion Trio, 
which for the next twenty years performed in San Francisco and Oakland and 
toured the state. She studied with European cellists Horace Britt and 
Stanislaus Bern, among the important nucleus of fine musicians who came 
to San Francisco at the time of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition 
and stayed to enrich the musical life of the Bay Area. She was a pioneer in 
educational music broadcasting, ultimately directing NBC s Standard School 
Broadcasts. She founded the influential California Cello Club, which in 
troduced Pablo Casals and Mstislav Rostropovich to the Bay Area. She is a 
master cello teacher, internationally known and honored. 

April 27, 1984 

J. Roger Jobson 

Executive Director 

The Society of California Pioneers 

San Francisco, California 



McLaren, Norman Loyall, Jr., Business and Club Life in San 
Francisco, Rejections of a Pioneer Scion, 1978. 
- bJ , -L x 

Shumate, Albert, M.D. , San Francisco Physician., Historian, 
and Catholic Layman, 1981. 

Rosenberg, Margaret Barbree, San Bernardo Rancho and the 
Southern Salinas Valley, 1871-1981, 1982. 

Cunningham, Sister Catharine Julie, A Native Daughter s 
Leadership in Education: College of Notre Dame, 
Belmont, Califorr.ia 1956-1980, 1983. 

Rowell, Margaret Aver-/, Master Teacher of Cellists, and 
Humble Student of Nature, 1984. 

Dullea, Charles W., in progress 



Margaret Rowell s Teaching 

In the fall of 1958, I performed the Brahms Clarinet Trio at Holy Names 
College in Oakland, California. At the end of the concert the pianist, 
Bernhard Abramowitsch, turned to me and said, "You play well, but I know a 
woman who could help you improve. -* She doesn t, play the cello any longer, 
but she is an unbelievable teacher." My immediate reaction was negative. 
"A woman? And she doesn t play! How can she possibly teach?" However, I 
made an appointment with her, and thus met one of ^the most important people 
in my life Margaret Rowell. 

t> - : 

On my way to meet Margaret Rowell, I was nervous as I drove from the 
Albany flats to her beautiful house in the hills above Berkeley. How would 
I play? What was she like? I was met at the door by, a gentleman wearing 
thick glasses, a green eyeshade, and an apron. He had a twinkle in his eye 
and he used language so beautifully that I was instantly charmed. This was 
Margaret s husband, Professor Ed Rowell. While I studied with Margaret, I 
would often come early to talk with Ed and learn from his wisdom and his 
genial wit. 

As her husband ushered me in, Margaret came along in her warm, quick, 
enthusiastic manner. Her brown eyes flashed behind her glasses. With her 
short dark hair, her simple dress and artistic jewelry, she looked elegant. 
She shooed Ed back to finish the dishes, closed the French doors to the 
living room, settled on the blue couch, and waited for me to play. 

I played the Prelude from the Third Bach Suite badly, although I played 
as well as I could. Years later, Margaret said that it was so bad that she 
couldn t tell whether I was musical at all. But, typically, Margaret 
recognized in me someone who needed help, not necessarily someone who had the 
potential to become a cellist, but someone with many cellistic problems and a 
desire to learn. 

Margaret s specialty is to take someone whose talent is not so obvious 
and help him uncover and realize his potential. I have heard her say at so 
many workshops, "I don t teach the cello, because the cello can t learn! I 
teach the human being." As I sat in her book-lined living room, I sensed the 
many other cellists who, like me, had come here with their aspirations, and 
learned not only cello playing but an approach to living. 

Until I met Margaret I had experienced only traditional teaching. The 
teacher assigned an exercise or piece, and the student attempted to learn it. 
The material was supposed to accomplish the teaching. If the student didn t 


play well, he was simply not talented, and there was nothing to be done. A 
basic approach to the instrument was not taught. If the student was physi 
cally immobilized while playing, he was categorized as "tight" and that was 
that. In the lesson itself, the teacher sat behind his instrument and the 
student behind his. There was not physical interaction between them. 

Margaret s lessons were an enigma to me. I was used to playing a piece, 
not worrying too much about the actual sound I produced or how it felt 
physically. I never realized that there was a connection between the two. 
However, in those first lessons I rarely played more than one line of music. 
Margaret believes in teaching "from the inside out." She wants you to feel 
what it is like to produce an expressive tone and a beautiful phrase, not 
just fit yourself to a prescribed position with the hope that things will 
come out sounding all right. In order to reach you internally, Margaret 
uses imagery and direct physical contact. 

During the lessons, this imagery and absorption with kinesthetics took 
many forms. One day when I couldn t get the feel of the bow, Margaret said, 
"Think of a paint brush," and had me get up and pretend to be painting her 
wall. When she wanted a "poured tone" she took me to the kitchen to fill a 
pitcher and a cup so that I -could get the actual feeling of pouring. When I 
insisted on gripping the three ounce bow in a deathlike grasp, Margaret got 
her most beautiful bone china tea cup and saucer and had me manipulate them 
up and down and around. "Was there any danger that you would drop them?" she 
asked. And so I realized the feeling of an easy clinging hold to the cup 
nothing like the vise-like grip that I had been using on the bow. 

Margaret s repertoire was not limited to cups and saucers. She asked me 
whether my car had a gear shift or an automatic transmission. Then she 
showed me how the left hand on the cello should be shifted, as if the cellist 
had an automatic transmission: not with a jerk but with an easy fluid motion. 
To teach pronation (turning the arm toward the body) , she took me to her door 
so that I could turn the doorknob. Then I had to demonstrate that turning 
the top of a jar gives a similar motion. This type of teaching was highly 

Even more unusual was having Margaret pump my arm in every direction to 
see how stiff I was and to show me how to use my arm from my back. I crawled 
inside myself, hoping she would stop thumping me so we could go on and play a 
few more notes. Enough of this feeling stuff! 

But there was more to come. In her efforts to have me feel how the 
power could come through from the back, she had me crash the heel of my hand 
on my thigh. I often walked out her front door with a few black and blue 

Margaret would also get me to feel her arms as she played some notes, 
but my fingers were blind. It took me years to "see" what she meant. 

One day when I couldn t yet understand the feeling of power from ray 
back, she encouraged me to get on the floor and crawl, feeling my weight 
come through my hands while still having the fingers free to move. Margaret 
tried this with quite a few students. Once at the San Francisco Conserva 
tory, the President of the Conservatory had an important visitor who wanted 
to meet Margaret. When they arrived at her studio they found both Margaret 
and her student crawling on the floor. A fine how-do-you-do, and what great 

However, the lessons were not all physical. There were poems and 
readings from Robert Frost, Omar Khayyam, and F. A. Alexander. She was 
fascinated with wildf lowers; out came a book showing "fiddle ferns" and 
their similarity to the scrolls of stringed instruments. Throughout all of 
it was this magnetic, vibrant, energetic, enthusiastic person. Margaret has 
so much vitality, you know she has never lost thd dh ildlike curiosity and 

energy that every adult longingly remembers. 

Ki . ~ 

One of Margaret s favorite quotations is from Saint Exupery s Wind, 
Sand and Stars: "Have you ever thought. . .about whatever man builds... all his 
calculations ... all the nights spent over working drafts and blueprints, 
invariably culminate in the production of a thing whose sole and guiding 
principle is the ultimate principle of simplicity? It is as if there were a 
natural law which ordained that to achieve this end, "to refine the curve of a 
piece of furniture. . .or the fuselage of an airplane, until gradually it 
partakes of the elementary purity of the curve of the human breast. . .there 
must be experimentations of several generations of craftsmen. In any thing 
at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything 
to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away...." 

In her teaching, Margaret applies the principle of simplicity by using 
"one finger scales." This consists of playing a scale on one string with the 
same finger playing each of the notes. This, she believes, gives one a 
direct message from the brain-ear telling the finger exactly what is needed; 
the finger responds without interference. Often, as I was waiting for my 
lesson, I would hear the previous student playing a one finger scale. This 
happened over a period of months. I thought to myself this student must be 
slow, or perhaps Margaret s teaching is slow. Finally, at one lesson, I 
heard the Haydn D major Cello Concerto flowing beautifully from the next 
room. This concerto is to a cellist what Mount Everest is to a mountain 
climber. What Margaret and her student had accomplished with one finger 
scales was to have so simplified the technique achieving a beautiful tone, 
shifting, intonation, and all the other fundamentals that climbing the Mount 
Everest of cello literature was relatively easy as a result. 

Studying with Margaret also meant participating in her California Cello 
Club. This club evolved from her students meeting to play for each other and 
in ensembles. It grew to include all the Bay Area cello teachers and their 
students. The Cello Club became a forum for visiting cellists. There were 
countless occasions when Margaret hosted Piatigorsky, Rostropovich, Starker, 
Casals, Greenhouse, and other famous cellists. Cello Clubbers could get a 


closer view of an artist, and the great cellists became aware of the cello 
community in the Bay Area, a community which existed because of the spirit 
and artistry of this one woman. In 1958 Rostropovich visited the University 
of California at Berkeley, and Cello Club attended the concert in the 
gymnasium in full force. After the concert the University and Cello Club co- 
hosted a reception at which there just happened to be eight cellists with 
their cellos and the music to the Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras. Of 
course, Rostropovich participated in the impromptu concert after the concert 
a memorable occasion for all. 

Cello Club had wonderful Christmas get-togethers. In ensemble, forty or 
fifty cellists played the familiar Christmas carols. A teenager played "0 
Holy Night." The youngest cellist played "Between the Ox and the Grey Ass," 
an ancient carol. There one experienced the true Christmas feeling, with 
Margaret bustling about fixing punch and hundreds of brownies and arranging 
the greenery and holly so that it looked just right. No one who participated 
could ever forget these occasions. 

Margaret is somewhat of an absent-minded professor. Sentences sometimes 
don t get finished, keys disappear, her purse all fifty pounds of it can t 
be found, the book with the quotation that she needs isn t where it is 
supposed to be. Her forgetfulness sometimes takes unexpected turns, as it 
did that first Christmas I knew her. One evening before Christmas I arrived 
at our apartment to find a book on Beethoven waiting for me from Margaret 
with the message, "Merry Christmas!" A few days later there was another 
package containing a bone china sugar and creamer set "Merry Christmas from 
Ed and Margaret!" When we arrived at the Rowell s for Christmas dinner, 
Margaret was all apologies. "Oh, I forgot your Christmas present!" and she 
presented me with a beautifully wrapped Alexanian edition of the Bach Cello 
Suites. She had forgotten all the previous gifts. I was overwhelmed. 

Pablo Casals came to Berkeley in 1960 for a month- long master class. 
Margaret had many former and present students in the class, and she worked 
tirelessly to get us ready to play for the great cellist. It was the 
experience of a lifetime. Cello Club had a potluck dinner for Casals, and we 
had over eighty cellists playing together in his honor. After the month of 
Casals was over, I called Margaret for a lesson. She said, "You don t want 
to study with me after having been in the master class, do you?" I had never 
realized that Margaret did not hold on to her students. If she felt they 
needed something that she couldn t give, she would send them to someone else. 
This is most unusual in a world of teachers where each feels that he is the 
only one who can do the job well. 

Margaret s teaching is in a continual state of change. She is forever 
learning and simplifying; asking questions of students, artists, physicians, 
chemists; reading, and writing to people all over the world. Margaret often 
states in her lectures that our cellistic geniuses are largely self taught. 
We don t remember the names of the teachers of Casals and Rostropovich. The 
reason for this is that in their quest for expression through their 

VI 1 

instrument, these "greats" chose all the right paths. They were able to 
play well because there was no interference between their thought processes 
and the physical execution of these desires. They play "from the inside out" 
and it looks easy. Margaret, through her inquisitiveness , great warmth, and 
hospitality, is able to observe these great artists. She attempts to under 
stand their techniques and to transmit this knowledge to her students. 

Because of my husband s military commitment, we left Berkeley in 
January, 1961, and drove with our seven-month-old baby, Wendy, to Anniston, 
Alabama. There we rented half of a farmhouse, and Wendy and I talked to the 
cows while Terry went on all night field maneuvers. This is when Margaret s 
teaching began to unfold within me. 

: - ; j-. . 

There were many facets of Margaret s teaching .that I could not under 
stand. She had talked about the reservoir of power in the back, ready to be 
used whenever it was needed by the hands. She had. talked about playing 
through the fingers, not with the fingers. One was supposed to cling to the 
fingerboard and to the bow with a suction grip, like a baby clutching a toy. 
I was to use a bear hug to hold and position the instrument, and I was to 
feel that my arms were bird wings, light and airy, but powerful. 

One by one, I worked through the concepts that. she bad delivered to me. 
I began to understand the basic approach to the cello: to free myself so that 
I could produce music. I realized again the magic of her teaching. It does 
not always produce immediate results, but, like time- release capsules, her 
teaching keeps acting over an extended period. Although I had only studied 
with Margaret for a short time, during the three years when I lived in 
Alabama and Washington, D. C. , I felt as if I were having a lesson with her 
every day. As I began to comprehend her teaching, I would occasionally write 
to Margaret and explain to her what she had tried to explain to me. Her 
invariable response was, "But of course, Renie!" 

We returned to California in July, 1964, with two daughters. I was 
eager to see Margaret and to start teaching once more. From time to time I 
went to play for Margaret, but more often I would go to her and say, 
"Margaret, I have a student with such and such a problem. What should I do? 
What material should I use?" I loved teaching cello. Every student was 
unique and needed a different approach, but the principles were the same and 
had to be taught. Margaret has always had a great commitment to educate 
teachers. She feels it is the teachers who need to be instilled with the 
basic principles so that they can pass them on to their students. We had 
many wonderful exchanges where I tried out my new ideas on Margaret, and she 
shared her greater wisdom and ever-evolving ideas with me. 

In the spring of 1968 Margaret delivered a talk in Seattle for the 
large Music Educators National Conference held there. Margaret rehearsed her 
talk many times beforehand, trying to be as succinct as possible. She asked 
me to come along to assist her, mainly to accompany four thirteen-year-old 
boys who played the Haydn C major Concerto in unison, as well as to illustrate 


her teaching points. In the large audience was Paul Holland of the University 
of Illinois. Paul had a grant from the Department of Health, Education and 
Welfare during the Johnson administration, and he was producing a string 
method which included a book, films and new music. Later, Paul said he was 
intrigued that his violinistic ideas were so similar to Margaret s cellistic 
ideas, even though they had never met or talked. He invited Margaret to 
write the cello portion of his method. Margaret agreed and entered what 
turned out to be a frustrating period of authorship, trying to fit her choice 
of words into the Holland method. The photographs were difficult to get just 
right, and the sequence of techniques had to be exactly the same as for the 

Margaret sent the proofs of the book to me in Ann Arbor where we had 
moved in 1969. Then came a phone call that she was going to have a cancer 
operation, but I wasn t to worry. Margaret wrote the preface to the Prelude 
to String Playing while in the hospital. I marvelled at the spirit of the 
woman who could concentrate on something that she loved at a time of great 

Paul Holland asked Margaret to demonstrate her ideas in an American 
String Teachers Association Workshop in Milwaukee. Margaret again invited 
me to come along to assist. Actually, she did not need any assistance. She 
was giving me an opportunity to learn how to teach teachers . When we arrived 
in Milwaukee, we first took a limousine from the airport and were dropped off 
in front of a hotel. Our baggage sat on the lawn suitcases, cello, music 
cases. A taxi showed up to take us to the university. Margaret, gregarious 
as ever, engaged in a lively discussion with the driver, a university 
graduate, about books and architecture. When we arrived at the university I 
had my cello, suitcase, and music, but in the heat of the discussion we had 
left Margaret s things on the lawn in front of the hotel. I felt utterly 
useless. I had come along to carry things and to help remember, and had 
failed at the first opportunity. 

We gave four workshops in Milwaukee with Paul Holland between 1972 and 
1976 and since then have given them all over the U.S. and Europe. A workshop 
is basically divided into three sections. In the first we discuss the basic 
approach to the instrument. The second consists of a typical master class in 
which a student plays a work and is helped in front of the entire class. In 
the third we prepare several pieces to be played by the whole group in a 
program at the end of the workshop. 

Margaret prepared for each workshop as if it were the first she has ever 
given. She has copious notes from all the lectures she has delivered, and 
she uses them. However, each lecture is different. Her preparation is 
similar to that of an artist giving a concert. Although he has played the 
pieces many times, he must reconsider all the possibilities of each work and 
approach the composition as if it were the first time. 


Margaret s vast knowledge of music and cello playing has come from many 
sources, but she has integrated it with her own wonderful, characteristic 
insights. As Margaret guides teachers through her basic principles, one 
realizes that she has taught many children and has retained within herself 
the imagery that inspires children and adults. Her gift is the creative 
teaching that allows learning to happen from the inside out. 

The teachers learn about bear hugs and bird wings and make their hands 
become "blobs." They cling to the string and bow with their baby clutches 
and again get the feeling of flying over the instrument with their wing 
feathers (fingers). They do "knuckle-knocks", thumping the cello with their 
knuckles to feel the easy power coining through, then clap all over the 
fingerboard to feel the mobility of the arm. .They learn about balancing on 
the string like a tightrope walker and that vibrato is like the wavering of 
the acrobat as he maintains his balance. These concepts are illustrated with 
newspaper clippings of the Great Walenska walking a tight rope from building 
to building. Margaret brings a picture of a skeleton to show the similarities 
in the construction of arms and legs, and shows how the feet have their 
reflexes built into them but the hands work only through the brain. 

She also has a "bag of tricks" which she uses to illustrate points: a 
lizard with flexible "fingers" and rubbery feel that demonstrates suction 
into the string; Chinese handcuffs, again for a suction feel; a wind-up toy, 
wound up in the back to demonstrate where the power is. Margaret is not 
teaching dry notes and rhythms , but inner feelings and concepts which will 
enable live tones and rhythms to be produced. 

Margaret is also willing to give each person the "feel" of her baby 
clutch or bear hug. Using the power from her back, she has been known to 
fling an unsuspecting student across the room with a mere flick of her arm. 
She challenges a teacher to take a book out of her hand, but the teacher 
finds this impossible because of the strength in Margaret s flexible grip. 

In the master class phase of the workshop, one realizes that Margaret s 
approach is not just physical, but deeply musical. She wants the music to 
have shape and direction. She often talks about the architecture of music 
indeed that architecture is frozen music. One of her most scathing comments 
to a student would be, "It sounds too technical." Margaret wants Bach to 
sound like Bach, Beethoven like Beethoven, etc. She does not hand out "her" 
fingerings and bowings to works as so many teachers do. Rather, she works 
with each student to fit the technique to his concept of the music. 

Margaret has the utmost patience when it comes to teaching. She will 
try multiple approaches over a long period of time in order to get a student 
over a musical hump. At these workshops it is clear that Margaret is not 
only interested in the most talented students. It makes no difference 
whether they are aged seven or seventy, amateur or professional, farmer or 
nun. The ones with problems receive the most attention. Margaret s 
interest is in the development of human potential. 

Group playing in workshops and Cello Club is an unusual facet of 
Margaret s teaching. Cellists are by nature friendly, and since the cello 
has nearly the same range as a human choir, a cello choir has a glorious 
sound. Cello Clubbers love to sit down and play Bach Chorales together or 
arrangements of other great pieces. At a workshop many participants are 
moved to tears when they are in the midst of this beautiful sound. We had 
to limit the cello orchestra to ninety players at Margaret s 80th birthday 
celebration at the San Francisco Conservatory. Playing in such a group gave 
the whole community a feeling for the enhancement of the individual and his 
part in a greater whole. 

Margaret and I have taught workshops in many places , each with its own 
special memories. We study maps on the airplane and discuss the spots we 
want to be sure to see. Margaret wants to experience everything. One year 
we were in Lexington, Kentucky. We finished the workshop and rose early on 
Sunday morning to watch the thoroughbred race horses go through their warmups. 
"Look at those delicate legs that carry the ton of flesh. They re always 
ready to take the weight just like our fingers in playing the cello." Then 
there was the Chicago trip when we had to see the wonderful lines of the Mary 
Cassatt paintings in the Art Institute, and Margaret s beloved water lilies 
by Monet. 

Our trip to England, the first for both of us, was full of wonder. 
Under the expert guidance of my husband, Terry, we visited everywhere in 
London using the underground. Margaret was fascinated by the underground 
and kept asking whether they had dug it from the surface or had tunneled 
through when it was built. Neither of us knew, but Margaret was persistent. 
Finally, in desperation, she spotted a "typically English" little old lady 
with hat, gloves, and shopping basket. Margaret rushed over and asked her 
the burning question, "Did they go straight down or sideways to dig the 
underground?" The lady looked at Margaret and blurted out in a thick Yiddish 
accent, "I vuden t know. I hev only been here a short time meinself." 

On that same trip for the European String Teachers Association, the 
workshop in Cambridge included a Beethoven Sonata cycle, and I performed 
three of the Cello Sonatas. As I was rehearsing in the concert hall Margaret 
stopped by to listen. She could not contain herself. "Your bowing is awful 
in that spot, Renie!" She grabbed my arm and vigorously demonstrated the 
proper approach. Other faculty members wandered in to watch the teaching 
demonstration. I was mortified; I was supposed to play in two hours and was 
being shown how to do a bowing. However, at the performance I discovered 
how right Margaret had been. I marveled again at the teaching genius who 
could not bear to see a wrong action being taken when she had the ability to 
correct it. 

Margaret is forever lending her music, cellos, bows, and books to people 
and then forgetting who has what. On one occasion before a performance, she 
complained about the sound of my A string. I went home discouraged. What 
could I do? A few hours later a call came from Margaret. "There s a cello 

of mine in San Jose. Pick it up and see whether it doesn t sound better." 
It was beautiful, and I have enjoyed it ever since. 

During one of our many hours of preparation for a workshop, I left 
Margaret a pamphlet written by a neurologist whom I had heard speak on 
"Neurological Clues to Better Teaching of Music." I knew that Margaret 
was fascinated by the study of the mysteries of the brain and had read a 
great deal on the subject. I thought that this pamphlet would also interest 
her. I left it on top of her piano which was already covered with music, 
books, and magazines. 

On our next trip, to Columbus, Ohio, Margaret said, "Renie, I have 
something that you will enjoy reading. I ll just put my name on it so you 
can return it to me sometime." Out came the neurological pamphlet signed 
Margaret Rowell. I protested, "But Margaret, I loaned that to you." We had 
a good laugh. "Well, it s too bad that I signed it," she said. "I ll 
replace your copy." 

Sure enough, in a few weeks she had a copy for me. However, she had not 
simply written the author and asked for a reprint. She had gone out of her 
way to meet the gentleman and had begun an exchange of ideas with him. He 
was interested in her work, and she wanted to discuss his ideas with him. 
Her magnetism, interest, and curiosity had worked again. 

Margaret has students everywhere. My students, Margaret s grands tudents, 
love to have her come to our Sunday morning workshops. She imparts such a 
feeling of history, love, and sensitivity, and does it with such a flow of 
energy, that we all come away inspired. From her presence one gets a sense 
of a pebble thrown into a pool of water with widening circles flowing out 
from the center. Each person she has touched knows that he has had an 
extraordinary experience. 

Irene Sharp 

January 1984 

Palo Alto, California 


INTRODUCTION Bonnie Hampton 


On the Occasion of the Conferring by the San Francisco 

Conservatory of Music of an Honorary Doctor of 
Musical Arts Degree on Margaret Rowell, May 17, 1980 

It is a great pleasure to be sharing in today s celebration of Margaret 

Rowell s association with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Her roots 

go deep into the school s history, just as her warmth and spirit go deeply 
into everyone who comes into contact with her. 

It is fascinating to contemplate the fact that the releasing of natural 
energies and talents is one of her primary concerns as a teacher. Everyone 
who comes within the sphere of her radiant spirit experiences that flow of 
energy, both outwardly and inwardly. Isn t that fundamentally centrifugal 
and centripetal force? 

In the centrifugal sense, the warmth and generous giving of her personal 
ity has sent a flow of life out to students and cellists all over the world 
many of whom are also in the sciences and literary fields. So many musicians 
have experienced the revitalizing effect of her interest, enthusiasm, and 
great love for music. She has had a Nobel prize winner among her students, 
and although it was not won for his cello playing, it might well be that some 
of the seeds of his creativity were discovered and nurtured by Margaret. 

Perhaps her centripetal flow of energy is her ability to lead students 
to find themselves and to help them discover their own particular gifts. 
Although her influence on a student is enormous, her great gift as a teacher 
is that not of imposing a "method," but rather the liberating of students to 
develop their own unique potential. This is no magical solution, and I m sure 
many times it is years before the seed bears fruit, but once one has had "the 
Margaret experience" one is never quite the same again. 

It has been fascinating to watch Margaret s development over the years! 
She has always been energetic and full of enthusiasm, with a mind teeming with 
imaginative ideas. As young students, we would always wonder with anticipation 
what the "new" idea would be what new concept or experience would illustrate 
some aspect of cello playing. It might be the concept of an octopus, with its 
supple strength and octopus- like suction in the finger tips or one might try 
to have the agile fingers with the upward spring of someone running barefoot 
across a pit of red-hot stones (as Margaret had done in Mexico once, on a 
dare!). And of course, one s arms are really bird s wings with their perfect 
balance and centered energy flowing from the back. The analogies go on 


endlessly, and needless to say, make for very lively lessons one never knew 
what would happen next! 

Her fascination with the workings of the human brain, with the discoveries 
of space exploration, with the enormous sources of energy and life-giving 
forces of the ocean, with the ebb and flow and wonders of nature all these 
aspects of her personality open so many doors in one s thinking. 

With this endlessly creative imagination, her development through the 
years has brought her more and more to the simple fundamentals in cello 
playing and in life and to the conviction that only when a person can tap 
into the most natural and free flowing energies can one begin to find the 
basic rhythm, the acute ear, and sensitive response and flow of music which is 
inside one. 

And beyond all these wonderful conceptual ideas, one also understands 
that one must play well, have the ability to play anything and everything all 
over the cello that s all! but somehow, with the direction she shows us, 
anything seems possible. 

She gives so much to all of us. I am grateful that today we may show her 
something of what she means to us. In closing, I would like to quote something 
that Margaret said in an interview years ago: "First be a human being, and 
then, if you insist, be a musician." 

Further Musing on Margaret 

She called today, having just returned from a trip east where she was 
with many cellists in a mutual celebration of our instument and its art. She 
had heard that I was not well and wondered if she could make me some chicken 
soup. At 83 she is still the "Mother of us all" in the most radiant sense. 

As my thoughts take their course through time, I can envision, as a total 
piece, the many hours we spent with her in her home. The warm welcome at the 
door, the immediate visual stimulation one experiences, the sense of beauty. 
Her home is alive and interesting in every corner books, paintings, sculptures, 
natural wood pieces, Galen s photos of mountains, pictures of students and 
visiting cellists. 

The number of musicians from all over the world who have enjoyed her 
welcome is astonishing. One of the first cellists I met in her studio was 
Gabor Rejto, who had not been in this country long. Having worked with Pablo 
Casals he was the first direct link we had with the artist whom Margaret had 
made our spiritual father from the first day we played Bach. We grew up on 
Casals recordings and she gave us something of her special experience of 


having heard him perform here in the 1920s. 

We were fortunate enought to hear Casals in Berkeley in 1960 and 1962. 
Why did he give his first master classes in this country in Berkeley? 
Perhaps there are many reasons, but a principal one is because the climate, 
in the larger sense, was receptive. This was an environment which allowed 
talent to blossom and was always searching for larger ideals. 

Margaret is undoubtedly a visionary. Her intuition, her searching and 
questioning mind leads her in her own direction, which is not always 
immediately clear. But when it is fulfilled, one hears from her that it is 
like a "dream come true." 

The California Cello Club was certainly one of those dreams the idea 
that many cellists and teachers could share and gain nourishment from each 
other. In the late 1940s Colin Hampton came to the University of California, 
Berkeley, as cellist of the Griller String Quartet. Having grown up with the 
London Cello Club, he brought the scope of international ideas which were 
compatible with Margaret s instincts, and this led to the forming of the Cello 
Club in 1950. 

In the years when the Cello Club met regularly at Margaret s house there 
were so many visitors. Rostropovich on his first tours in this country used 
to practice at her home. Piatigorsky came and shared his largess and 
amusing stories. Zara Nelsova would come during her early tours of this area. 
And Bernard Greenhouse, Janos Scholz, Claus Adam, told of cello activities in 
the newly formed New York Cello Society. 

Leonard Rose and later his cousin Frank Miller visited. Janos Starker, 
Andre Navarra, and Pierre Fournier were honored by Cello Club, as was Paul 
Tortelier more recently. Eva Heinitz, a pioneer cellist to work with the 
Gamba, and Juliete Alvin, a pioneer with music therapy in England brought new 
ideas. Laszlo Varga was welcomed when he moved to this area, as well as 
Robert Sayre and Michael Grebanier when they became first cellists of the San 
Francisco Symphony Orchestra. The list could go on and on. 

But what is this magnetism which draws people to Margaret? Perhaps the 
answer is not all that complicated. She is a person who cares. She is an 
active person, who follows through on her impulses. 

And, she also knows that cellists are earth people; they are not only fed 
by the spirit, but at the table as well! Her table was always most bountiful, 
whether one was a beginning student or an international artist. It s true. 
Cellists are mostly good cooks. Why? Because they are interested! 

Margaret s answer is simple and forever. You must give talent and 
spirit room and a climate in which to grow. You must deal with the real 


needs of life, career, livelihood, etc., but you must keep opening up those 
new doors of growth and development. That is what she is doing everyday. 
And for the rest of us, we should just try to keep apace! 

Bonnie Hampton 

17 April 1984 
Berkeley, California 



Family Outings 

The 1940 Chevrolet sedan rolled into the darkness, black as the night 
except for its headlights and bits of canvas swathed to its chassis. A 
fifty-pound tent hung on the rear bumper, a sack of sleeping bags straddled 
the running board, and a dripping desert water bag patched one side of the 
grille, giving the vehicle a face like a one-eyed pirate. The Chevrolet was 
as black as a Model T Ford, and also as devoid of accessories. It was 
ordered without radio, heater, or cigaret lighter by my frugal father, Edward 
Rowell, who sat in the back seat bundled in a greatcoat designed for a Chicago 

My father was always over-prepared. He had begun packing the car two 
days before and had tied all the paraphernalia to its flanks. We seemed to 
be on the verge of some cross-country journey in winter, yet we were leaving 
Berkeley at four in the morning during Easter Week to avoid the traffic on a 
half-day drive to Yosemite. The air was as warm as summer. 

Margaret my mother did the driving. My father s eyesight had been 
getting worse year by year and there was talk of operations. He had just 
sold his 1940 Studebaker coupe, also unequipped, for more than new price. 
The tires still had the little bumps that normally wear off in the first 
hundred miles. To conserve on tires, rationed during the war, he had glued 
pieces of inner tube around the circumference and stayed below fifteen miles 
per hour on his way to and from the University. 

I was six years old and excited about Yosemite. I had already been 
there several times. I knew we would camp in the valley, hike some trails, 
see bears and deer, but even more importantly I already knew that every trip 
like this created a strange juxtaposition that turned the family upside down 
in a most pleasant fashion. My father, patriarchal and always conversant in 
the city, would become quiet and rarely leave the car until we arrived at our 
destination. My mother, absorbed in her world of music in the city, would 
lead me by the hand into fields of wildf lowers (identifying every one) , and 
stop at all scenic viewpoints and historical monuments. Before my father 
realized what was going on, we would be out of the car, free once again, 
experiencing a world that she knew and loved as much as her music. 

My father s love of wild places was more passive. When I was ten he 
gave a Sunday sermon to a group of Sierra Clubbers miles from any road, 
emphasizing the special values that human beings have derived from time spent 
in mountain solitude over the ages. The source of his own inner calm became 
apparent as he talked about how wild places help a person clarify and purify 
their motives, build their moral courage, and recover their wholeness of 


being. "They furnish," he concluded, "a therapeutic release which no sensi 
tive soul can hold in scorn." He professed hatred of only one thing I can 
remember: snow. After leaving the Midwest, where he spent his first thirty- 
seven years, he vowed never to live in snow, drive in snow, or walk in snow 
again. He succeeded. 

Snow had not been kind to my mother, either. In 1923 she took part in a 
mini-expedition of horses, mules, one man, and several of her "girls" (as she 
still calls them) along what is now the John Muir Trail. More than ten feet 
of snow still blanketed Donahue Pass south of Yosemite in June. Her horse, 
Flopsy, began to flounder badly. It panicked and tired itself so severely 
that it was soon, in her words, "beyond all mortal help." Last seen, Flopsy 
took off around a corner and kept going. 

In 1951 my parents took me to the same region on a two-week Sierra Club 
outing. The new USGS topographical map showed a "Dead Horse Lake" at the 
contour level of Flopsy s last stand. I have yet to hear a better explana 
tion for the lake s name. 

Because of her mountain experience from three summers in the twenties 
when she traversed most of the two hundred miles of the southern Sierra, my 
mother was chosen by the 1951 trip leaders to go on a climb in the Minarets 
that involved crossing a glacier with ropes, crampons, and ice axes. She 
slipped once, was held, yet came back with only positive things to say about 
her experience. Her whole way of interpreting wild places was very different 
than that of my father. She looked at things more personally without a hint 
of his academic detachment. Years later I came upon some yellowed notes that 
she made on one of these outings : 

Why is the ugly in Nature so beautiful? 

Why do we notice and reverence the jagged, rocky, for 
bidding peaks more than the smooth symmetrical ones? 

Why do we carry in our minds the picture of the knotted, 
twisted tree or the dead tree hit by lightning and forego 
the sedate, proper trees that have grown according to pattern? 

The grandeur of Death in Nature! 

To see a tree that has lived and covered itself with 
foliage finally die, and for the first time show the Strength 
and Line of its limbs. 

To raise them naked and unashamed from the earth to the 
sky and there, silhouetted, to create for the first time 
Beauty as it never before has been conceived. 

Such is Death in Nature. 

Men seem to have forgotten the cycles of Nature. 
They expect lives to be a continual progression up, up, 
up to Success. 

Where is this in Nature? 


The plant, in order to bloom has to resign itself com 
pletely to its cycles to be hidden under the winter s snow, 
resting uncreative with dead cold weight upon it; upon the 
melting of the snows to send forth green shoots; to wait until 
the shoots are strong, and the summer sun shines down, then 
to send forth its bloom, knowing full well that summer, with 
its time of blooming, does not last forever. 

My mother s summer bloom did not last forever, either. Like a perennial 
flower a latent part of her came to life each time we journeyed to wild 
places. Since arrival at such places was always preceded by an automobile 
ride, I made an obvious connection. Driving a car was the key to this 
special kind of happiness. When we couldn t plan my fourth birthday in 
Yosemite itself, we did the next best thing. My mother and I picked out 
boulders in the Berkeley Hills to represent the Royal Arches, Half Dome, and 
El Capitan. On my birthday morning she told me with her usual unqualified 
enthusiasm, "My what a great big boy you are now! You are so big and strong 
you can do anything!" 1 had one simple request. "Can I drive the car?" 

Those early family outings to the wilderness had more influence on my 
life than I ever could have imagined. People who only know my mother s 
musical background are often at a loss to figure out how I got into the auto 
service business, only to jump into a career as a wilderness writer and a 
photographer. 1 myself was oblivious to the links between her work and mine 
until recent years. When I was writing an article on bristlecone pines, she 
astonished me by uncovering the yellowed Sierra notes that I have quoted here. 
When I showed her the first draft of my first book manuscript, I listened 
incredulously to a critique as incisive and accurate as I would have expected 
from my professorial father. Her eye for continuity in language is certainly 
as sharp as her ear for music. 

The connection between music and photography is even more striking. 
Ordering a performance of light for the public eye is similar to ordering a 
performance of sound for the public ear. It is hardly coincidence that 
photograhers such as Ansel Adams or Ernst Haas come from musical backgrounds. 
Or that Kodachrome, my favorite film, was invented by two chamber musicians 
in a home bathtub in Rochester, New York. Much of the Webster s definition 
of music fits photography perfectly: "The art and science of combining... 
tones... to form structurally complete and emotionally expressive compositions. 

People are always surprised that I never took formal instruction in 
photography. Until they meet my mother. 

Galen Rowell 

4 March 1984 
Berkeley, California 



In September 1982 the Regional Oral History Office wrote to Margaret 
Avery Rowell, to say: 

It gives us great pleasure to be able to invite you to be 
a memoirist in the Society of California Pioneers Oral 
History Series of The Bancroft Library. The Regional Oral 
History Office has over the years been documenting the 
cultural history of the Bay Area, but we have not had 
opportunities adequately even to begin a record of the 
musical history of the area. Your career, your position 
as a musical locus, your closeness to the Berkeley and 
University community, your very wide interests and your 
happy ability to tell a good story, make you an informant 
verging on the ideal. We would like very much to do an 
oral history memoir with you. 

Margaret Avery Rowell was born in 1900 in Redlands, California, and was 
brought up there and in San Jose and in Oakland, where her father was super 
intendent of schools. She took her B.A. at the University of California, 
Berkeley, majoring in music and social economics. She is the most influential 
cello teacher in California. Founder of the California Cello Club, a performer 
from 1917 to 1937, as well as a pioneer in educational music broadcasting, an 
active Unitarian, humanitarian, and Sierran, she was most abundantly qualified 
for the Society s Oral History Series. 

Margaret Rowell is admired nationally and internationally. In 1970 she 
was named String Teacher of the Year by the American String Teachers Associa 
tion, and in 1982 she became the Grand Dame du Violence lie in a ceremony at 
Indiana University s School of Music. She taught at the University of 
California, Berkeley, Mills College, Stanford University, San Francisco State, 
and the San Francisco conservatory of Music, as well as in season after 
season of workshops throughout the state and the nation. 

When Margaret Rowell founded, in 1954, what was originally the Berkeley 
Cello Club, Pablo Casals agreed to serve as the first sponsor. Margaret 
Rowell s influence was significant in persuading Casals to give two series of 
master classes in cello at the University of California, in 1960 and 1962. 
The work of the California Cello Club led to cellists being the most cohesive 
community among American musicians. The informal salon that Margaret and her 
husband, philosophy professor Edward Z. Rowell, ran from their Berkeley home 
was a place where music was often performed in the service of nature, 
politics, and the humanities. The Russian minister of culture was a guest 
there; and later, Mstislav Rostropovich, now an important member of this 
country s musical life, and quite probably because of that Berkeley connection. 

For reasons that seem impossible to recall now, we felt that this 
singular personage, fully engaged in teaching and reportedly always traveling, 
would take some convincing as to the value of doing an oral history. But the 
contrary was true; she took the time and she took great pleasure from the 
very start in all that recollecting. It is characteristic that just as one 
would be thanking her for her willing participation, she would be enthusias 
tically declaring her gratitude and joy in being interviewed. The opportunity 
to share an idea and to go into the transports of the past were as fine a way 
to start a day as any. Casals "benediction" on his house was to play two of Bach s 
Preludes and Fugues in the morning; Margaret s thoughts of family and students 
and beautiful places were her daily blessing. 

The interviews began in September 1982 and were held weekly through 
November, with a session the following August and October 1983. Our date 
was for 9 a.m. The approach to Margaret s door is through a remarkable 
hedge, up a few steps, past a grassy lawn with flower beds, and on up a few 
more steps. And there Margaret would be, right at the door, always beautiful 
ly dressed and combed and smilingly ready. Maybe a little flustered because 
of an unsuccessful search for something in her papers with which to make a 
point, but ready to pick up the oral history thread and follow it along. 

If there were parts of her past that she would rather not have talked 
about, or that recalled hard times, I didn t know it. The point of view for 
Margaret Rowell is one of continuity and growth, and acceptance of the 
individual, and love of the earth and the privilege of life; to develop a 
negative theme would have run counter to the very soul and spirit, and 
moreover, would have been a shocking waste of time. And the only way in 
which Margaret would control the direction of the oral history conversation 
was to declare it when something was "not important." 

The interviews were held in the living room, in a corner of the room 
back by the fireplace, next to a window. Margaret sat on a straight -backed 
chair facing me, rather close, as if I were a pupil and a cello were inserted 
tightly between us. She was intent every minute of the interview. She was 
as aware as anyone I have interviewed of the delights of free-associating, 
and could enjoy how one pictured event moved into another, like a synchronized 
slide show, and how the mind made those transitions with amazing grace. 

The room beyond our corner was alive with music stands, chairs, music, 
photo-strewn piano, books, paintings, flowers, records, busts, and heaps and 
piles that yielded material relevant to our conversations when Margaret was 
lucky. The room was closed off with a sliding door. We slid the door back 
open around lunchtime, and bee-lined to the kitchen for toast and jam and 
cheese and coffee. That kitchen was vintage Berkeley, and to sit in the 
built-in breakfast nook with Margaret hopping up and down to tend to our 
snack was very cozy, if it had all gone on much longer I might have learned 
to play the cello just by breathing in that atmosphere where so many hundreds 
of students learned to play "from the inside out" in thousands of hours of 
lessons taught with so much love and appreciation by one charming woman. 


The manuscript was edited in the office to incorporate material discussed 
out of chronological sequence. Margaret read through the rough and lengthy 
draft and made minor corrections. She expanded the story in some places, and 
provided us with brief pieces on the Unitarian Fellowship and the Cello Club. 
Then she turned the whole transcript over to her son Galen to read. He made 
no changes, but cheered us all with his enthusiasm for the sound of the 
memoir and the approach to the subject. 

The interviewer was inspired long ago by Trevor Thomas s fine documentary 
piece on Margaret Rowell, taped in the late 1970s, and shown on station KQED 
in San Francisco. Still available is a video tape of Margaret Rowell teaching, 
produced by San Francisco State University. A print of that tape is in The 
Bancroft Library. Art Hakel, Margaret s nephew, wrote an enjoyable family 
history, "Margaret! Margaret! The Exclamatory World of Margaret Avery 
Rowell," which is also deposited in The Bancroft Library. 

"Every second we live is a unique moment of the universe," said Pablo 
Casals, and Margaret quotes him on her 1983 Christmas greeting. She is a 
great quoter, and mines the newspapers and magazines and books she reads for 
these truths. Albert Einstein looks out at her, with quotations, from a 
calendar in her hall. It is fitting that her introducers, her student- 
colleagues Irene Sharp and Bonnie Hampton, and her son Galen Rowell, all turn 
around and quote Margaret, who turns a phrase with the best. Margaret s 
heart really beats with the universe, like the natural musician she is. 

The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape record autobio 
graphical interviews with persons prominent in recent California history. 
The office is under the direction of Willa K. Baum, division head, and under 
the administrative supervision of James D. Hart, the director of The Bancroft 

Suzanne B. Riess 

9 April 1984 

Regional Oral History Office 

486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 



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[Interview 1: September 15, 1982 ]## 

Childhood Memories 

Riess: You were born in 1900? 

Rowell: December 11, 1900. 

Riess: Would you describe your mother and your father? 

Rowell: Oh, I wish I could! As I grow older I appreciate them all the 

more. I think this is true of most individuals. My sister Marion 
and I had quite a conversation just last week about my mother. We 
both don t see how she ever did what she did, which was to raise 
five children and to have her own father, my grandfather, live 
with us all my young life. He retired at thirty-nine because he 
had asthma very badly and never worked after that. She took total 
care of him. Most of the time he lived upstairs. She carried the 
three meals a day to him, except once in a long while he came 
down. She waited on him hand and foot. We lived in Redlands on 
an acre orange orchard, with chickens, a cow, rabbits, dogs, cats 
and everything else under the sun. 

Mother took care of all of us , and made all of our clothes 
until my oldest sister was able to make her clothes, by the time 
she went to Stanford. How my mother ever got those all made I do 
not know. I remember after we moved to San Jose, after I was 
probably in about the sixth grade, her buying my sister and myself - 
we always wore our dresses alike two little, very cheap gingham 

////This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 318. 

Rowell: dresses, because they were on sale. Not half as good as anything 
she made. Those were the only made dresses I remember wearing 
until I was through high school. 

She made all my evening dresses through college, completely, 
that I played in [with the trio] while the other people were 
buying theirs. She designed them, too. She would cut them out of 
sheets to try the designs on us first, to be sure that they were 
just exactly right. We would pick out what we wanted, usually. 
She did the same thing with hats. I would take her over to 
Livingston s or Magnin s, pick out just the hat I wanted which, 
even at that day, was a fortune. She would sit down and make me 
a beautiful, beautiful hat. I might even have some of those up in 
the attic! I did save one or two of them. They were really works 
of art. 

Riess: When she was in college, was she training to be a teacher? 

Rowell: Yes, and she did a great deal of literary work, and was evidently 
a fine speaker. At her Tabor College commencement the newspaper 
report was that "it was generally conceded that the palm was borne 
off by Marie Tolman" that was her maiden name "of Red Oak." She 
also, in another newspaper clipping, had the highest scholastic 
average in the school . " 

Riess: Your father took care of the orchard? 

Rowell: Yes. Oh, he milked the cows; he did a great deal. Of course my 
brother, as soon as he was old enough to do anything, helped. I 
can remember delivering milk. I m sure we never charged anything 
for it. I remember our taking it to the different neighbors, in 
the evening, and his swinging that bucket clear over his head, 
which I didn t think people could do, without spilling a drop. He 
used to tell me all about the stars and the constellations as we 
would walk. I ve never forgotten it. That would be before I was 
six years old, so it s a very vivid memory to me. 

Riess: What a marvelous place to be raised, an orange orchard. 

Rowell: Yes! I loved it! The first place we lived, in Redlands, before we 

moved when I was five, was only about an acre of oranges. But an 

acre of oranges produces a great lot. And there we grew everything 
else beside. 

In our one block there there were twenty-four children under 
twelve years of age. They all met at our great big barn with all 
the hay and everything else in it, every day, and played and played 
in it and in our yard. So, we were the center of it all. And I 
was the youngest of all of them. My best friend was the boy across 

Rowell: the street. I have a picture of him at about four years old, when 
he got his curls cut off. I didn t recognize him after that. It 
was amazing how they dressed the boys in those long, long girl s 
dresses, and then gradually turned them into boys. 

I remember so well our sitting in that orange orchard by 
the hour planning how many children we would have when we got 
married and all about it, planning our wedding with orange 
blossoms, and so on, every detail of our wedding. And I ve 
forgotten whether I had a girl doll or a boy doll. Whichever it 
was my oldest sister, Louise who was very good to me let us 
have a wedding. She made peanut brittle for it, I remember, and 
she fixed up everything with a whole bower of flowers. We married 
our bride off to the groom and had a wonderful wedding. That was 
all before I was five years old. 

Louise was my oldest sister, and she really took care of me, 
because my mother had the five children. I can remember as soon 
as they were old enough to go to school the four of us used to 
form a circle in the morning, and everybody did everybody else s 
hair, except for me; Louise, my oldest sister, did mine, then 
Marion helped her, and so on down. 

Riess: So it goes Louise, Marion . 

Rowell : 



Louise, my brother Harold, and Marion, and then Priscilla and then 
myself . 

My mother always said that Louise could be crying but if the 
doorbell rang she had the most wonderful smile and would go to the 
door and be absolutely beautiful from then on. She was always the 
society one of the family, just grew up being always very 
beautiful and very charming and very lovely. She was wonderful 
to me! If anybody read to me, it was Louise. I remember her 
making drawings and putting them over my bed, and such things. I 
have wonderful memories of her. 

I hadn t realized that you were the baby in the family, 
be a desirable position to be in. 

That can 

Oh yes, it really was! I was told at quite an early age that I 
was an unexpected baby. [laughter] I ve always carried that 
around with me, but instead of feeling not wanted I really felt 
that I was very much wanted and loved. 

I think my father always meant a very, very great deal to me. 
Both of them did, but my mother didn t have time to spend with 
me because, from the age of nine on, my sister Priscilla needed 

Rowell: Priscilla and I we were always like twins together, we dressed 
alike and went to school together. Priscilla was a year and a 
half older than myself. She really and truly had all the brains. 
They may have left me a little bit of some music or something 
inside of me, but from the time she was born she seemed to just 
have not only a scientific interest but a great love of 
literature. She knew just what was going on in the world every 
single moment. I didn t, I was very happy just to be! [laughter] 

She knew the answers to everything, and we always sat in a 
double seat at school. So, if there were any questions I asked 
her for the answer, and she gave it to me. As a result, I didn t 
have to learn anything. She read all the magazines. We took 
[National] Geographic from the very first issue on. My aunt in 
Montana was so fond of it that she sent us the first issue and 
always subscribed for us. Priscilla knew every Geographic by 
heart; she knew what was happening in all parts of the world. 

My folks kept Priscilla behind and didn t let her start school 
until she was eight years old, so that I would be six and a half and 
we could go to school together. I rather presume this was because 
there seemed to be a slight rivalry between my older sister and 
brother. They had almost the same difference and there seemed 
always to have been a rivalry there to catch up of which I was 
absolutely unaware. My brother finally caught up with my sister 
and that was a great blow to her. I think that they just thought 
that we were together all the time and that we should go to school 
together. So we did go, hand-in-hand. We walked to school 
together, walked home for lunch, walked back again and walked home. 

In the fourth grade one day a dog bit her on the way home, at 
lunch. My mother took her to the doctor, and I had to go back to 
school by myself. I did not know what to do! I sat in that desk 
and the teacher said, "Where is Priscilla?" I simply could not 
answer. I could not say one word. Nothing came out of my throat. 
She kept asking and I finally got out of my seat and ran up to her 
desk and whispered in her ear, "A dog bit her," and ran back to my 
seat. That was all I could do. 

That doesn t mean that I didn t play a lot and have an 
awfully good time. In about the fifth grade I don t know where 
it was they did separate us for something. We went to a Normal 
Training School in San Jose where we had a different teacher for 
about every fifteen minutes of the day. I enjoyed it tremendously. 
I never went to a school where I had the same teacher all the way 
through the day; I ve never experienced that in my lifetime. I 
enjoyed this very, very much. Priscilla was put in the advanced 
group, whereas I was not. [laughter] Yet I did not feel that so 

Eight: Margaret Avery and 
her older sister Priscilla, 
ca. 1904. 

Below left: Lewis B. 
Avery, ca. 1930. 
Photograph by Hartsook. 

Below right: Marie Tolman 
Avery, ca. 1930. 
Photograph by Boye. 

Singing Within 

Rowell: As I look back on it, one of the what should I call it? I guess 
I ll call it a great blow in my life, because we always did 
everything exactly together. We went to Sunday School together, 
we went downtown together, we played with the same people after 
school. But, there was a tryout for an operetta at school. They 
chose her and they didn t choose me, and from that day to this I 
have never, never opened my mouth to sing. For the "Star Spangled 
Banner" I always move my lips, but I never sing. I would stand up 
with my cello and play the "Star Spangled Banner" standing up, 
which I ve never seen a cellist do in this day and age. But that 
event ended my singing, there and then. 

I don t think we know how many times this does happen. 
Anybody can be taught to sing, of course, but to never open your 
mouth or try to sing is something quite different. So, I think 
from then on I always heard music internally, and that s the only 
way I hear it today. I would have a heck of a time doing otherwise. 
But if you have heard it internally, you know it. The things I 
really learn by heart I hear in my inner ear and not in my outer 

Riess: Do you have a sense that at any time you could open your mouth and 
really let loose, if you wanted to? 

Rowell: I don t know. I have no idea because I never tried. 

Riess: Up until that time, had you been one who would go around singing? 

Rowell: No. I don t believe so. There wasn t a lot of singing in our 

house. I don t know why. My father adored music. He just loved 
music! He taught music at Onawa. And I found out later that 
while at the college he went to, he brought different fine 
musicians there for concerts, Ole Bull, and others of that 
particular time. He was very fond of violin music. 

Riess: Did he have a violin? 

Rowell: No, there was no instrument in my family except, of course, we 
always had a piano. 

Years and years later, in fact not too many years ago, was 
the first time I d ever been back to the house I was born in, in 
Redlands. It s the only time that we were all together, my sister 
Louise, my brother Harold, Marion and myself. Priscilla had 
already died. We went back to Redlands, just for a visit. I 
wanted to see the house I was born in and we saw that, and the 

Rowell: same orchard beside it. I wanted to go up and ring the door 

bell, and they said, "Oh, no. It s a Sunday afternoon. We can t!" 
I said, "I m going to!" 

I was never one to what should I say? I ve always hung 
back from doing things. But I said, "Oh, I m going up and ring 
the doorbell." I did and I announced to the people that I was 
born in that house. They said, "Do you want to come in?" I said, 

So we stepped into the living room and it was just as I d 
remembered it when I d moved away at five years old, or five and 
a half. The first thing I said was, "That s exactly where the 
piano was!" That amazed me, because I d never once thought of 
myself as musical in the least at that time. But there it was, 
and the other things I could see exactly as they were. It was 
loads of fun! 

Right-Left Orientation 

Rowell: I never have been able to tell my right side from my left side, 

even to this day. It s one of the hardest things for me. I find 
other people very few people but there are people like that. I 
learned my right from my left very hard, but I learned it in that 
house by tying my shoes, and knowing which was my right foot and 
which was my left, and to this day, I turn just exactly the way I 
was in that kitchen and get my right foot and my left if I m having 
any trouble. If I m driving or anything else I imagine that 
particular place and I see my right foot and my left foot , because 
I was trained so hard to know which was my right and which was my 
left, right then and there. 

Riess: Why wouldn t your bow hand automatically be your right? Why 
wouldn t you think in those terms? 

Rowell: Because of the fact that I had done so much teaching. I taught 
from the time I was in college, which would be the last sixty 
years or more. When I m facing a student and teaching them, I m 
more mixed up than ever because my left hand faces their right 
hand, and visa versa. Let me show you! So I find that teaching 
in front of a class or something like that , teaching anything 
physical using the arms, gets very confused with arms, their right 
and their left. As you can see, you d be going like that and I d 
be going like this. [gestures] It doesn t help it any. 

Riess: Did you consider the fact that you couldn t sing, or wouldn t 
sing, to be a handicap? 

Rowell: No, I never did. I never let it enter into me. I ve never 
thought of it at all. 

Riess: I d like to follow this idea that your older sister was seen as the 
social one, the charming hostess. Your brother, how was he viewed 
in the family? 

Rowell: He had a lovely disposition his whole life, yet he was very quiet 
and very studious. He had a very fine brain. He could do 
everything, mechanical and otherwise. I remember him, I could 
almost say, with great tenderness. With the four of us girls and 
a big yard to play in, we had our great big doll houses set at 
different places in the backyard under pepper trees. He conceived 
of building a sort of a train. It was out of shoeboxes, but it ran 
by strings so that it connected each one of our houses. We 
would put our dolls in that and he would convey it so that it was 
carried over to the next person s house, and then the next person s 
house and so on. He was very ingenious with everything he did and, 
of course, scared the life out of us by climbing up these pepper 
trees and climbing from one pepper tree to the other on the little 
tiny branches, going all the way around and coming down, which we 
loved to watch him do. He had that adventurous spirit in him. 

Father, Adventurer and Educator 

Riess: You had said that your father had a great travel streak. 

Rowell: That s right. I think that my father was really frustrated, though 
he never showed it in any way. He was so proud of his family and 
he loved his family. Everything he ever did was for his family, 
from the very day of his marriage on through to his death. I was 
unaware of this except that I can see, looking back, that everything 
related to his wanting to get out and see this world of ours. I 
did not know at that time that he spent his summer vacations when 
he was going to college surveying the boundary between Canada and 
North Dakota for the Geological Survey. There was no boundary at 
that time. It was before North Dakota was a state that he did 
that, or as it was being brought into the Union. I didn t 
learn that until I was an adult. He was in a covered wagon doing 
that, and probably lots of other things. 

Rowell: He also had a mind for minerals and rocks, and all the out-of-doors. 
I can remember our first trip to Yosemite, his stopping our old 
open car very suddenly and jumping out of it and running to the 
middle of the field to examine the rocks that were out there. My 
son, knowing the Harvard geology book by heart when he was 
twelve, and spending his whole life doing rocks, took after his 
grandfather without ever knowing it. My father was very interested 
in all mineralogy, and all that type, but particularly in all of 
nature and the out-of-doors as it came. He loved to teach it even 
when he was superintendent. 

Whereas he did not have a salary worth very much to raise a 
family of five, he did get a car as early as almost anyone, I would 
say probably about 1904 or 1905. He had a two-cylinder Maxwell. 
My mother would put on one of these great big hats and tie it 
with a great big veil underneath, and they would go off on these 
trips, the two of them, just small trips up the mountainside there, 
in Redlands, where I was never taken. 

But then came the 1906 earthquake. I can remember that 
morning so well because my father called us immediately to his bed 
and said there d been a great big earthquake in San Francisco. 
It had stopped the clock in San Bernardino, California, only a 
few miles from Redlands if you can imagine that. 

He immediately called an assembly at the high school that 
morning and told them that they were sending a train that night to 
San Francisco. The whole family went down to see the trains go out 
loaded with steaming hot bread, and clothes, and everything else 
everybody was sending. 

Of course, that was a great disaster, but I think my father 
naturally viewed all of those things not only from the side of a 
tragedy and a disaster, but also from the geological viewpoint, 
being so fascinated by it. So the very next year, 1907, he and 
my mother left all of us with my older sister, and they took a 
trip from Redlands to San Francisco in the little Maxwell, which 
was really a trip in those days. 

Almost no one had cars then. The roads were not through to 
San Francisco in any way; it was horses and buggies. I wish I had 
their journal of that trip somewhere. I would give anything to 
lay my hands on it. I know there must be one. They went by 
stages. I think they got not as far as Santa Barbara the first 
day. Then each one of those stops along the way on, of course, 
dirt roads. There was nothing known as pavement. The roads 
were totally unfinished. Over these high grades he would have to 
back the car up in order to get it up over because reverse gear was 

Rowell: stronger than any other gear. They would stop at farm houses to 
get certain things. There were sometimes little tiny inns, way 
on the top of a pass, to stay overnight. 

When they came to the San Joaquin River there was no bridge 
across at all. I ve heard other people telling of their parents 
like this. They had to buy chicken wire and put it down so many 
yards in front of them to get over the sand. It was summertime, 
so they could get across, but you had to go very, very slowly not 
to sink in. 

Riess: Why didn t they go by train? 

Rowell: Because my father adored the thing of going in an automobile! 

I might say, though, I really am way ahead of myself. The summer 
before I was born, he and another fellow took their bicycles from 
Redlands, California, which is sixty miles southeast of Los Angeles, 
and rode from there on their bicycles to Stanford for summer school, 
and back. That was really quite a trip. So, he had already made 
that trip on bicycle. Taking it by car was quite a step forward. 
In later years he loved to show us ranch houses where he stopped 
to get a drink of milk or something. 

He came to Stanford and studied that summer, and expected to 
come back. David Starr Jordan, who was then president at Stanford, 
was very happy because my father, evidently, had a scientific 
mind, and he said, "If you ll just come back and work for your 
doctor s degree, I ll take you on as a professor the minute you 
finish." But he had me in December and, being the fifth child, I 
finished that off for him. [laughter] There was no means 
whatsoever to ever do any of it. He never was able to do anything 
else with it. I know he always regretted that. 

We bought a lot in Carmel just next to David Starr Jordan s. 
It would have been worth a fortune, but he had to give it up a 
few years later just for taxes; he couldn t keep up any payments 
on it. When I see what that frontage now sells for! His desires 
were ahead of his means , and he had a way of not bothering about 
it at all; he just didn t worry too much. He still lent money to 
his relatives who were in harder times than he. He felt the 
desire to do that. So I was brought up thinking that every 
penny counted and you just had to save every penny and also help 
others. I can t, to this day, see anybody wasting a nickel or a 
dime. I ve never bought a Coke or any soft drink in my life, 
anyplace, because I consider it a waste of money. I go and take 
a drink out of a faucet, as I was taught to. 


Riess: I was trying to characterize the members of your family, and in 
talking about your brother we ended up talking about your father. 


Rowell: I think I would like to talk about my father some more, if you 
don t mind, because I do feel that he had a terrific influence 
on me, and one that I did not realize. I think this is what s 
really great. I feel his influence came a great deal from his 
absolute devotion to John Dewey as an educator. 

John Dewey believed that you didn t educate by teaching 
subjects; you waited until the desire was there to learn a subject 
and then you just simply went after it. I don t know whether I 
agree with that entirely. It most certainly is not the way 
Mr. Suzuki starts every child [on the violin] at two or three 
and has them just going right on with it. It s quite the opposite 
of that, in a way. And yet there is something to be said about 
that wonderful desire to learn and then piling yourself full of 

That was more or less my father. I think always he was in 
the background, which I did not realize. He never imposed 
anything on us. I never knew he was even thinking about what I 
was doing; I thought he was unconscious of what I was doing. But 
he was always keeping track of all of his children and where they 
were, and what their interests were. We never had to take 
certain things, but if he found our interest, he was a little 
ahead of us. 

My sister Marion, for instance, very early showed a great 
liking for games and for the out-of-doors. While she was still 
in high school, or at least college, she was working on playgrounds, 
He saw her interest there, and she went to the University of 
California and majored in both zoology and physical education. 
But the physical education is what she finally went on with, and 
became in charge of it for all of the girls of the Oakland 
schools, and was in charge of the University of California s 
practice teaching at University High School at the same time. So, 
she really had herself a career, and is benefitting from it a 
great deal in her retirement. 

My sister Priscilla always had a scientific bent, always 
reading, always doing all of those things. I expected her to go 
into the scientific part of it while I was the one who, as I told 
you the other day, loved flowers and was doing everything about 
flowers. Peculiarly enough, she s the one who majored in botany, 
and genetics. That combined her love of flowers with her great 
scientific bent, and she did a great deal of work along those 

Riess: There were no signs that your field was music? 


Rowell: Well, I guess not. I think that I was, more so than any of the 
other children in the family, left completely to my own in my 
bringing up. My older sister, of course, had all the attention, 
as the oldest one always does. My brother, Harold, developed so 
much mathematically and every other way very young. 

Priscilla Avery, Sister 

Rowell: I haven t mentioned enough about Priscilla. I think she was about 
nine years old when she first began getting very, very thin. But 
it was either when she was nine or ten that we discovered that she 
had diabetes, which at that time no cure was known for. Children 
just never lived on with it. So my mother practically devoted her 
life to Priscilla. 

I can remember the Parent Teacher s Association which was 
young and very important. They made everything out of it. I can 
remember the women coming, hour after hour, day after day, trying 
to get my mother to be the state president of it. She d already 
done this and that and the other thing she was their secretary 
but they had to have her. She absolutely declined, and this was 
solely because of my sister Priscilla, because she felt the need 
to give her so much attention. 

She needed it. She couldn t eat anything, finally, except 
spinach that had been "thrice boiled." It meant a great big 
kettle of water with a little bit of spinach in it, and you d 
throw off the water, and then do it again, and then do it again 
until it was really dark brown in color and horrible looking. 
She couldn t touch any bread; she couldn t touch anything of course 
with any sugar in it. It was practically that that she lived on. 
I think she could have some meat. 

She used to love to make all of the family cakes, because 
she was so good at it, but she never touched a crumb. She had 
her scales right at her place at table and by the time she was 
eleven years old about she was measuring out her own food, every 
meal, every time. Here I was, sister, going to school with her. 
I paid no attention to that whatsoever! I was hardly aware of 
what was happening, that she couldn t have all the things I had, 
because she just took care of herself. 

Riess: But she somehow survived all of that? 


Rowell: They say now that it was really a miracle. I find my sister at 
age eighty-six, who supposedly has hyperglycemia, taking sweets 

here and there. I say, "Marion, that isn t good for you." I m 

not going to use the word "cheats," but she still gets just a 

little bit. But not Priscilla. She watched out for herself 

carefully, without calling attention to it. She never touched 
a crumb of cake or bread in her life. 

Riess: Your parents consulted doctors. Did they go on in search of 

healers? Would they have been interested in that sort of thing? 

Rowell: No, I don t think in healers. That whole era hadn t come in at 
all. I think our whole faith was in the doctors. The doctors 
were so wonderful to her. I think they were wonderful to my 
mother, too. Ray Lyman Wilbur, who afterwards became the president 
of Stanford in fact, I think he followed David Starr Jordan was 
her personal doctor at Stanford Hospital. He watched after her, 
really. Even when we were in San Jose she would come up and go to 
the hospital for maybe a month at a time, maybe two months at a 
time, and he just watched out for her so completely. 

I remember her getting through high school. I don t know 
whether she finally really graduated, but she had such a brilliant 
mind that she went to UC. I think it was seventy-six pounds she 
got down to. She was taller than I am and just nothing but skin 
and bones. She looked like a walking skeleton. I almost hated to 
see her walk in to a concert of mine because her face looked like 
a skeleton and it really hurt me to look at her. Some place I 
have a picture of her that my sister Louise took, saying, "I m sure 
this will be the last picture we ll ever have of Priscilla." 

Well, one day [in 1921] I was going down town with my mother. 
The mail came and she began opening her letters, right then. She 
sat down on a garbage can lid I ll never forget it and started 
weeping. I couldn t imagine what had happened. It was a letter 
from Ray Lyman Wilbur saying to her that insulin had been 
discovered and that he thought that Priscilla should be the first 
one from anywhere here to go east and get her first treatments of 

She went immediately to the institute in Morristown, 
New Jersey. She d been there many times before, for the treatments 
of the two famous doctors, Dr. James Sherrill and Dr. LeClerq. 
One time when she was there I can remember being at the dinner 
table at night and they called us from the institute and said, 
"We re sorry, but we cannot get one drop of blood out of her body, 
anywhere , so you can expect the worst . " She went around without 
that blood in her system. I don t know how anybody does it. 


Rowell: When she came back after insulin was discovered she got off the 
train and [laughing] nobody recognized her. She weighed 130 
pounds and it was a fleshy 130 pounds. She was a roly-poly! It 
was all fresh fat within two months. She went back on to campus 
and she would come home at night, furious, "People don t speak 
to me!" They just did not recognize her as the same person. 
Really, her best friends did not recognize her. 

From that time on she was just beautiful. Before that time 
she had looked much, much older than I; now she looked younger! 
The whole rest of her life everybody thought she was younger 
than I was. When she died the papers had me as her older sister. 
I said to someone, "You know, she was older." "Oh, no she wasn t. 
They wouldn t accept it because I looked older than she did. 

When the American Medical Association met in San Francisco, 
Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur said, "I wonder, Priscilla, if you would mind 
sitting on the stage. I want to introduce you as the only living 
record we have of anybody who survived since childhood through 
without insulin." It seems that the earlier you get it, the 
more serious it is. She really was a very remarkable person, and 
when she was so skinny she went to the university and she always 
got absolutely straight As. 

Albert Palmer, and Plymouth Congregational Church 

Rowell: We moved from San Jose to Oakland when I was twelve years old. 
Riess: Why was that? 

Rowell: My father had been the principal of the San Jose High School. It 
was a lovely high school. We went to the Normal Training School 
there. As I remember, there was a great big bond issue that he 
wanted so much for the high school. He wanted more science, he 
wanted to build a new wing on and do so many things, and when the 
bond issue failed, he was just crestfallen, and he applied 
elsewhere. Both Sacramento and Oakland wanted him. He chose 
Oakland because a minister whom he had known as a very young 
person coming out to Redlands for one summer from the Yale 
Divinity School, Albert W. Palmer a marvelous young man impressed 
him so much that he wanted to be near his church. 

He chose Oakland for that and he bought us a house within 
two blocks of that church. We were all brought up in it. I took 
my sister there last Sunday. It was the Plymouth Congregational 
Church. It isn t in a beautiful location now at all, but it was 
then, just about what is now MacArthur Boulevard and Piedmont 
Avenue . 


Rowell: My father always bought a house with a stream somewhere. When 
I went by it this last week I walked across the same little old 
bridge. The creek is there and the bridge is there. It was a 
lovely home, a well-built home. I think it had five bedrooms 
and big porches on each side. We could put down at least fifteen 
sleeping bags on the porch. 

But the main reason there was to be near Albert W. Palmer, 
who was one of the most influential [persons] in my life, most 
certainly I can say that. I don t think I ever had a man who 
had as much influence. I started reading one of his books within 
the last six months and I thought, "My sakes! I can see why I 
fell for this man." Clear way back in that era of 1912 and 13, 
he was so broad-minded. Now, I don t know what your religious 
background is at all, if any. 

Riess: I was brought up as a Christian Scientist. 

Rowell: Well, he had the broadest viewpoint of humanity of any man I have 
ever known, in a religious capacity. How he at that time could 
preach not that all of the people should be saved on all of the 
Pacific islands, and so on, from their ways of living, but that 
everybody should have a better life and a richer inner life, was 
his whole thing, and not to try to reform people. He was really 

He made such an impression on me, and I guess my father knew 
he would, and I was the youngest but I saw to it, of my own 
accord, that I went to church five times on Sunday. Sunday school 
and church, Intermediate Christian Endeavor and then Senior 
Christian Endeavor I snuck in on I was always large for my age, 
very large, I was aware of it and the Vesper services in the 
evening. I couldn t get by without all of those. 

I really just loved this minister. We were very fond of his 
family. His youngest daughter was named Margaret. She would 
come down and play with me very often and I thought she was 
wonderful. She turned out to be a very beautiful dancer. I 
don t know whether it was Martha Graham or before Martha Graham s 
time. She introduced, of all things, that mode of beautiful 
modern dance into the church service. Can you imagine it! It 
was really remarkable. Not into ours that was in the Midwest by 
then. But, it was a lovely family, and a great influence on 
young people. 

The Oakland church, of all things, he wanted built without 
a steeple. He thought it should be right in the middle of the 
community, that its most important thing was its gymnasium which 
would be open every day. He had an assistant from the University 


Rowell: of California come down. That was in 1913 and 14 that we moved 
there, and the Plymouth Athletic Club of that era still gets 
together. Only about four or five of them are left now, alive, 
and they get together every year and celebrate. Isn t that 

It made such a profound impression. Last Sunday when I took 
my sister down, I didn t go to the church service. I took a 
book with me. I can t take it all. [laughter] I took a book and 
went out in the Oakland Rose Garden and read a perfectly beautiful 
book to myself for that solid hour, absolutely alone. That 
was a better service to me than any dogma I could get, and still 

Riess: When your father wanted that for his family, was it the philosophy 
of this man, or was it the Christian dogma? 

Rowell: It wasn t Christian dogma. I might even just slip this book to 
you, if I didn t give it to my sister to take back with her. It 
goes very quickly about his viewpoints. 

He was interested in people like the South Sea Islanders. He 
went from here to Hawaii they called him and he build the great 
big interdenominational church in Hawaii because he felt that was 
a melting pot of the world. Clear back then I can remember this 
thing which, of course, got into the grain I was ready for it of 
the races. Discrimination has always hit me so hard. To him 
there was no discrimination of peoples. At the Union Church, 
whatever it is, in Hawaii I think it still stands they were just 
so fond of him there. Interdenominational. Never any denomination 
with him. 

While he was in Oakland I can remember his preaching sermons 
you can hardly believe this now every Sunday on, "If I were mayor 
of Oakland," or "If I were editor of the Oakland Tribune," or 
"If I were police chief," and so on. That was the day of ferryboats 
and the trains connecting the ferryboats from San Francisco. 
(Those were really days of transportation because you knew what 
time you were going to get some place and you didn t have to worry 
about it.) They would have about five to seven long cars on the 
Key Route system; each car held pretty close to a hundred people. 
They would have that on the Piedmont line and bring it across 
Sunday afternoon for the evening service the Vesper service. 
The cars would line up at the end of the line, wait until the 
service was over and take the people back to San Francisco. Can 
you imagine that! It was the biggest church in Oakland and it 
was absolutely packed for those services. 


Rowell: He would get up there and say, for instance, "If I were editor 

of the paper I would do thus and so." The editor of the Tribune 
was there and he said, "Mr. Palmer, I want you to edit the paper 
for me. I will give you one night." He did it. That paper I 
think you will find in the UC library. I know that people everyplace 
kept that. I found it in the Carmel Library years later under a 
special classification, that Albert W. Palmer edition of that 
paper. It was the first edition that didn t have these great big 
huge headlines which he objected to. But he had gotten all the 
news of terrific interest on every subject in that paper. How 
he ever did it I don t know. 

He had that whole town. Everybody came and listened to him. 
He was that kind of a person. A very unassuming person, a very 
gentle person. And happened to have a very beautiful face. The 
impression he made on me was a very, very fine one. 

I remember only once in my life a rebuff. It hurt me clear 
down inside. As I told you, I was very unsure of myself and I 
never projected myself anyplace. My sister Priscilla could do 
anything anyplace and she always could take charge of things. I 
never did. But I always went to our little Intermediate Christian 
Endeavor I was president of it time after time, I don t know why but 
I just was and I remember about the third or fourth time I was 
elected president I thought that I shouldn t have been, probably. 
I remember Albert W. Palmer coming in, and I said, "Oh, I ve just 
been elected; I don t think I should have been." He said, "You 
shouldn t have run if you didn t want to be." I thought, "Oh, my 
God!" [laughter] He said it very kindly, but he meant it. That s 
always stayed by me. "I shouldn t have run if I didn t want it." 

Riess: That s right; it is a great truth. 

Rowell: There s great truth there. I thought he would say, "Oh, how 

wonderful that they wanted you." But no. How definite, and how 
lovely. That s always stayed with me. Do you understand? 

Riess: Yes. 

Rowell: I never wanted to recite at school; I couldn t. But at Christian 
Endeavor I could. 

Riess: What was Christian Endeavor? 

Rowell: It s a group of young people. They get together on a Sunday 

afternoon and hold their service, hymns and prayers, and somebody 
talks to you or you talk to them and have discussions. 

Riess: Did Albert Palmer come and talk to that group? 


Rowell: Yes. Maybe once in a while. He didn t have to be there. 

Riess: So, now we have your father connecting with John Dewey and with 
Albert Palmer. Who were some of your father s other heroes that 
became your heroes also? Was there anyone else? 

Rowell: Oh, there would be. Of course, he read a great deal. Henry and 
William James, I would say so. The interests of the world were 
always his. He always had a great big, huge dictionary with the 
dictionary stand right by his place at the table, so if there was 
ever a doubt about anything, he had that dictionary right there 
and opened it up and read us the dictionary. I thought it was 
terrible, but I do the same thing. I have the dictionary right 
beside me now. The encyclopedia was always a great part of the 
family. He kept on with his great interest in all reading all 
his life. 

And he had a love of science, and taught physics and 
chemistry, and even wrote a chemistry book. 

The 1916 Yosemite Family Trip 


Rowell : 

You described your first trip to Yosemite. 

It was after Louise s 

Yes. We were all dead tired after this huge, great big church 
wedding. I think I ll just mention a thing about the wedding. 
My older sister Louise had planned it. She made my sister Marion s 
maid-of-honor dress; she made dresses for Priscilla and myself, 
who were not even in the party but had to have them made just 
exactly alike, of course. My mother was worn out because visitors 
came from all over. We rented the house next door for all of our 
out-of-town friends. My mother had to cook for all of us. It was 
a huge time. We had something at the house afterwards. The 
soloists came from Redlands, five hundred miles away, to sing for 

She had something which I have never heard of before or since. 
This was in 1916. We d had the 1915 exposition, and what an 
exposition that was! There had been a contest of all the choirs, 
coming from all over for it. Our Plymouth choir had won the 
contest. Alexander Steward was one of the outstanding musicians 
of the whole state of California. He was our conductor. He was 
very well known. My sister got him and that choir to sing the 
Lohengrin Bridal March for her. She marched in to the singing of 


Rowell: the choir, which I ve never heard at a wedding before or since. 
She had the church all decorated with a whole train load of 
Woodwardia ferns she had sent down by train from the Santa Cruz 
mountains . 

It was really quite a wedding and it wore all the family 
out. My father said right afterwards, "I want all the rest of 
you girls to listen. I want you all to elope!" [laughter] 


Rowell: Anyway, just a couple of days after the wedding we started out, in 
our car, my brother Harold, my sister Marion, Priscilla and myself, 
and my mother and Dad, to go to Yosemite. This must have been a 
longing of my father s. I could see again that instinct of his 
to want to get out and travel. We never would stay in a hotel. 
We didn t have money for it, but we didn t think of it. We didn t 
know how to camp out at all. Nobody ever had except as, I m 
sure, my father had on the way up to Stanford and in that covered 

We took along things to use. We got as far as Fresno a 
little bit out from it the first night. Priscilla, who was 
frail, we put on what we thought was the very best thing, which 
was a hammock, and she didn t sleep a wink. We put my sister 
Marion in the back seat in the car. (We d taken out the back 
seat.) She said she was curled up so that she didn t sleep. I know 
I must have slept outside on the ground on something. Everybody 
was taken care of except my mother and father, who just simply lay 
out on the ground with blankets over them. In the morning we 
found out they were the only ones who really had a good night 
sleep, while all the rest of us had a miserable time. 

We drove up that old Wawona Road, right into Yosemite, and 
came in through the great big high tunnel, and saw the view of 
that valley. It was one of the spectacular moments of my whole 
life. Marion and I stood there in absolute wonder at it. We 
couldn t imagine there was such a place in the world. My sister 
Priscilla merely looked at it and said, "Why, yes. But it looks 
just like the Geographic pictures of it." She s the one who 
carried everything in her mind and knew what to expect. 

We had a housekeeping tent from Curry s. Yosemite had been 
opened just the year before to automobiles. We were out on those 
trails the first thing in the morning, and late at night. 
Basically, Harold, Marion and I did them because by that time 
Priscilla had her diabetes so bad and Mother, of course, stayed 
with her. We all did make it to the top of Nevada Falls Priscilla 
and Mother, too and down to the bottom, and Priscilla had left her 
heavy coat up at the top. We just sent my brother scooting back 


Rowell: after it, which to me today is quite a nice trip, up and back 
after dark to get her coat. But he did it and came down with 

The Yosemite Falls trail was a long hard one but, oh, we 
did that. We did everything in just the few days we had there. 
It left such an impression on me that I have never forgotten it. 
It was a love I simply cannot tell you about. 

Riess: Did your father discuss the geology a lot with you? 

Rowell: I think we were all terribly much interested in it. Of course, 
nobody knew the geology of it in that day as they do now. John 
Muir had begun to change it, but I don t think that people 
realized his viewpoints in that day at all. We were very much 
interested in it. 

The roads were simply terrible, such high dust on them and 
such curves and grades. I can remember my mother holding the map 
and everything in her lap when my father drove. When it said, 
"Bear to the right" she would yell at him, "Bear to the right!" 
One time we looked and sure enough, there was a bear! [laughter] 
We never got over laughing at that one. It really was true, 
and there were lots of bears in there. 

[Reading back over this, I recall now coming home from that 
trip at midnight, exhausted, and running right for my cello and 
getting it out and playing and playing, just for myself. How I 
had missed it , even on the trails ! ] 

Harold Avery, Brother, and Marriage to Betty 

Rowell: That time with my brother was the only summer that I know in 
those few days, about five days at the most, that he wasn t 
working hard all summer, as he always was. 

He majored in engineering at Stanford, and immediately went 
out after that, working for the State of California building 
the roads. That would be the 101 Highway. He would show us where 
he had mapped it out and worked on it from this point to that 

He finally was in the part from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara. 
It was while he was there that he went back east to a Stanford 
reunion and met a girl there who was one of my sister s best 
friends, from her Tri Delt sorority. He wrote, "Well, I m not 


Rowell: coming home tomorrow; I m taking Betty down the Potomac." Before 
he got home they were engaged to be married. She was the most 
wonderful wife that anybody could ever have. 

I would say that it was one of the most remarkable marriages 
I ve ever witnessed. He married a girl, a woman, who was as 
devoted to the whole world as anybody I can imagine, and to her 
family. Her daughter just came up to help in this very great 
emergency I ve had these last two weeks the death of our very 
great friend. I was so dizzy and so completely all in that I 
couldn t see how I could possibly drive to Carmel and bring my 
sister up, who had to come up. How she sensed it I don t know; 
I never called her. She called from Pasadena and insisted on 
driving up from Pasadena to Carmel, just to pick my sister up to 
bring her up here, stayed forty-five minutes, had a cup of coffee, 
and turned around and drove back to Pasadena. That s just the kind 
of a person her mother was, too. 

One of the things her mother did that I thought was wonderful 
was on the outbreak of our Second World War, with the Japanese 
here, and so much anti- Japanese feeling then. Betty was the 
bulwark of our Plymouth Church, in charge of the women s club and 
everything else. She got that whole church involved in seeing 
that those Japanese got moved well to their new places. It was 
such a horror to have them move in two or three days to those 
horrible horse stables. It s a thing that I can never get over. 

What had to happen was that those Japanese had to leave their 
homes, leave their furniture, leave everything behind, and just 
"get." I don t know when anything so tragic has ever happened to 
a civilized people. She saw to it that their furniture was put 
into storage with each family, with everything under the sun, 
managed it for I don t know how many families. She got that whole 
church group to feel with them rather than against them, and then 
to take charge of them. 

Everything that she did was like that; you didn t know she 
was doing it until it was done. 

The Yellowstone Family Trip 

Rowell: In Yosemite that first summer, when I saw those wildf lowers I 

couldn t get over it. That was 1916. I was in high school and, 
of course, I didn t drive at all. The next summer we went to 
Tahoe. Then I think it was 1918 or 19 that we went to 


Riess: Oh, please tell me about that. 

Rowell: I can t forget that trip to Yellowstone. We had relatives, my 
mother s sister and her family, to meet in Yellowstone. Also, 
it was to be the National Education Association in Salt Lake City, 
which my father would attend. So, with these two things we set 
out to take the new Lincoln Highway. 

But I must say first, because this should all be caught in 
some way, that when we got home from Yosemite [we] realized that 
we didn t know how to camp at all, we didn t have the right 
camping gear, and that we couldn t take another trip until we were 
really ready instead of having to do what we did, in sleeping 
out and then take a housekeeping cabin. So at Christmas time my 
father arranged for a man to come to the house and to start 
planning to make sleeping bags and a big tent for us. I d never 
heard of a sleeping bag. Whether anybody else had at that era, I 
don t know, but I don t think they were generally made at all. 
All this camping gear, you just didn t know of it at all. 

We had to have a tent made that would be big enough for the 
six of us. Then we had to have sleeping bags. But this all had 
to fit on the car with five of us in the car, taking along our 
food and everything. Of course, in those days cars, luckily, had 
running boards and running boards saved our life. 

We cleared the dining room table off as soon as we could 
after dinner and Marion and my dad and this man would go into a 
session on details, getting those five sleeping bags and the tent 
so they would sit on one side of the car. I tell you, we had to 
roll those sleeping bags tight. We had to roll them and roll them 
until they d fit into these little tiny bags they had to go into. 
If they couldn t get into the bag, we couldn t go on. 

Riess: What were they stuffed with? 

Rowell: I don t know. I don t have that one, but I took an old one to 
Carmel with me this time. I just carried it upstairs this 
morning. It s just absolutely going all to pieces. It s been in 
this house for forty-six years. How long I had it before then, I 
can t tell you, but I must have had it years before that. It 
must be sixty years old, that sleeping bag. I know that one cost 
about one hundred dollars, so they were expensive even then. 

We had those sleeping bags, and we had the big tent. Then we 
had to carry all the food for my sister Priscilla. We had to stop 
along the desert to fix the little stove for her, and everything 
else which we had to carry. Because we were going to Salt Lake City 
for the NEA, we had to have our best clothes along. We packed them 
in the trunk and put it on a trunk thing that hung out behind the 


Rowell: car. We had the food on the right hand side where we could get 

at it, and the other stuff on the other, and the five of us inside. 
So we were really quite burdened down. 

We started out across by Lake Tahoe and camped the first 
night out in the rain, by the side of the road, and went on to 
Nevada. There we were to find the Lincoln Highway. When we got 
there, here were three roads in the sand. We didn t know which 
one was the Lincoln Highway. Nothing was marked. 

We started down one road. We were supposed to go to Salt 
Wells next. Right away, almost, came two men we didn t expect to 
meet anybody in a little, tiny two-seater sticking up in that 
seat. We flagged them down and said, "Is this the way to Salt Wells? 1 
They looked at each other, said they didn t know. So we assumed 
that it wasn t. My father, in great disgust, looked across and 
could see the other road right across the sand. It was good, 
heavy sand, as good as the road which was sand, too, so he started 
the car across that way. In no time we got to a place where there 
was a great big canyon, between us and the other side. It s the 
only time in my whole existence I can really say that I ve seen 
my father absolutely angry, even for a moment. 

Of course, he had made the mistake. When he saw that canyon 
there he immediately put the car into reverse and started backing 
up. He backed right over a hillock of sand with vines on it and 
the car went, plonk, right down on top of it with a bang. What 
was left of the car sank into the sand. He and my sister Marion 
started digging on one side, and I started on the other. Of 
course, Priscilla and Mother always stood by the side because 
Priscilla couldn t do anything like that. 

We dug until, finally, my father wanted to see if it would go. 
When he got down where he could see, he jumped on the running 
board and that immediately sent the running board on my side right 
down on top of me. Then the whole family screamed. They thought 
that was the end of me. They started digging me out. Finally, 
when they could pull me out, everything was fine. My father 
got in to test the car and it really did go. That was one of the 
happiest experiences of our lives. Somehow there s nothing like 
going clear way down to make you go clear way up! We just sped 
along that highway seemed to that wonderful sand dirt road. We 
usually stopped very early. That day we went on after sunset, 
full moon, and finally came to a stop and laid out our sleeping 
bags, which we thought was just wonderful. 

The rest of the night, wonderful sleep except for howling 
coyotes. We woke up in the morning to find out we were right in 
the midst of bones, bones, bones. It was some sort of animal 
graveyard that we were in. [laughter] So all the shouting of the 
wolves and coyotes and all the animals in the night was explained. 


Rowell: We went sailing on, but we realized then that we were getting way 
too far behind and we would never make Salt Lake City if we kept 
going at that rate, because of the heavy trunk on the back that 
kept bang, bang, banging down every single rut we came to, and it 
was all ruts. So the first time we crossed a railroad we stopped 
and put the baggage for the train to take. (We didn t realize 
that when we got to Salt Lake City it would never be there. It 
didn t arrive in time for the convention. We had to wait for it. 
We were there almost a week so it arrived by the time we left 
for Yellowstone.) 

After Salt Lake City we went right on up to Yellowstone where 
we again did the trails. I enjoyed it immensely, but never with 
anywhere near the enthusiasm that I have for Yosemite. It would 
come absolutely one hundred percent above Yellowstone. I was 
disappointed in the forests, in the small trees, and other things. 
In many ways it was more beautiful then than now; the colorings of 
the rocks and everything were much more beautiful then. 

Margaret s Oceans, and Mountains 

Riess: When you talked about Yosemite earlier you also talked about the 
ocean and the beach. I could see that you wanted to make sure 
that your beloved ocean had also been given its due. 

Rowell: [laughter] You re absolutely right with that. I call myself a 
true schizophrenic because I am completely divided down the 
middle. I love the ocean with such passion I cannot tell you, 
and I always have. When I was small we went every summer to Ocean 
Park. I can still see the house we lived in there. One of these 
cousins from Montana had to watch out for me for the whole 
summer, see that I didn t get out deep in the water. We were 
within a block of the beach and it meant everything to me. 

But that is not the ocean, to me. Carmel and Point Lobos, the 
rocks and the sand, are the real ocean to me. My father must have 
had it also, because the first thing he did after we moved to 
San Jose was to get us to Carmel. There we stayed in a little, 
funny bungalow with an outhouse, which is still there, or at 
least it was the last time I was down. The secretary of my father 
at the high school owned it. She knew that part of the country by 
heart , so we would go down and go under the fence to get out to 
Point Lobos. It was privately owned in those days. Later I came 
to know the people who owned it. To go through all those things 
with somebody who loved them as these two old teachers had, was 
something . 


Rowell: To feel the difference of each beach of a rock beach, of a sand 
beach, of the pebble beach, of the ones with the arches in them 
so the breakers come in through the arch. To know each beach, 
and then to sit there by the hour. I wanted to spend hours. I 
always waded out. I spent hours going out from my folks. I 
don t know how they let me go for forty-five minutes at a time, 
I m sure, by myself, wading out through all of those tide pools. 

I loved all that tide pool life. Of course, there was 
nothing in those days against taking anything from it. I can see 
now it doesn t make that much difference. I had such a selection 
of perfect abalone shells! I ve given away two-thirds of them. 
I loved getting them. Of course the animal is already gone out 
of them; I m not taking any life away from anything. If you 
can catch them before the surf takes them out and just puts them 
to shreds, it s wonderful. I used to have them from the size of 
my little fingernail to the great, huge ones. 

I would admit in those first days before I knew better I 
picked the starfishes off and took them home and dried them. That 
was terrible. The smell from them is a stench that you can never 
forget once you know it. But, oh, how I loved all that animal 
life! I m sure it didn t develop my brain very much, but I think 
it did develop a sense of something very inner in me. 

As I said, my father always saw to it that we had a stream 
beside us. In Redlands we had the little stream running right 
through our property and had our reservoir for our orchard. In 
San Jose it was the Coyote Creek. We owned down to the middle of 
it. It was quite high-banked there. It had two leverages. It 
was a beautiful place to be, and the minute I got home from school 
I just ran down and practically threw myself out on the sand and 
stayed for hours. 

I d watch the little red I don t know what they are running 
around in that sand, and every kind of an animal. I was always 
fascinated with butterflies. I used to be able to make them sit 
on my hand. I ve done it a few times since my marriage. I hate 
to say that later in my life I even caught the butterflies and 
preserved them. I was so interested in all forms of life. We had 
a wonderful dog that I just adored. I was out-of-doors the minute 
I got home from school, and stayed there. 

The ocean does have this great drawing thing for people. 
When I was at the ocean, long before 1916 and Yosemite, I didn t 
see how people could go to the mountains. I thought the ocean was 
everything; it was total to me. I couldn t think of a summer 
without going to the ocean. In fact, I can t yet. I have to go 
both places. I say I m no good until I ve slept in a sleeping bag 


Rowell: in the mountains before going back to school. This is the first 
year of my life that I have not gotten out. It broke my heart to 
have the invitation and not be able to go this summer. I feel 
this is something lacking. So, those two poles for me are still 
right there. 

Later, when I had my studio on 23rd and Broadway in Oakland, 
I had two big rooms and a huge closet, and then a porch off of 
them. I had a grand piano in the room. That was the waiting 
room for my students. But on this porch, I had one side of it 
fixed like Yosemite, with pine cones and a wonderful picture of 
the lone pine on Sentinel Dome. The other side was completely 
fixed with starfish and abalone shells. When I got tired teaching 
I could just for a moment sit out there, have a drink or something, 
and look at my sea shells and my pine cones the great big , long 
pine cones. 

Riess: The inner life is what you got out of it? 

Rowell: I think I got a sense of being absolutely one with nature, as if 
there was no position between me and nature, which is what I do 
feel today if I ever can get out. While I enjoy a garden very 
much and I love to see a garden well kept, I enjoy the out-of-doors 
so much more and a path that is not well kept. 

Riess: And flowers that are not cultivated. 

Rowell: I have to have wildf lowers. That s what I was telling you the 

other day. To me to go out into a meadow, especially a mountain 
meadow, where I know nobody has trod before, and see a wildf lower 
that nobody has seen, and know that that wildf lower has come up 
from its own roots and has lived its own life, and is ready to die 
there without ever having been seen by a human being is to me 
something so amazing. Somehow that makes me believe in miracles. 
It really does. There is something so absolutely remarkable 
about a world that can produce that beauty without saying this 
has to be for something. 

One of the times that I can remember now is in Yosemite, 
climbing up Yosemite Falls, which is a long, hard, hot trail, 
and then going out to Eagle Point, which is one of the Three 
Brothers, out there at the top. You had to find your own way out 
then. Then coming back, we fought our way through one meadow 
which had entirely blue violets, just covered with blue violets, 
then broke through the trees and came on another meadow. (Those 
meadows are no longer there; they are all filled with trees now.) 
This next meadow was pure white violets. To this day the sight of 
a white violet is to me something so beautiful. It means rare 
mountains because you can see blue violets often, but those white 
violets, they grow in just certain places. 


Rowell: Then we came through on the top of El Capitan, where I m sure 

there are trails now. I just loved it. I got to the part where 
it began going down and just slid on my tummy not where it got 
down really steep to where it was good. 

Flowers, and Botanical Science## 

Riess: Your father wanted you to take botany, you said? 

Rowell: Yes, I heard my sister telling people last week that evidently 
from the time I was a child, if a person came just to stay over 
night or for any dinner or anything else, I would always have a 
fresh flower at their place at every meal. Of course, we had 
jasmine growing at the house. I did love flowers with a passion 
there s nothing more beautiful than an orange blossom, or sweeter 
and I was always aware of them. I even tried to draw them. I 
thought that I was going to major in botany. That just seemed 
like a natural thing to do. 

I signed up for art in high school my freshman year. I was 
always drawing old barns or something like this. The family always 
caught me drawing. Not that I drew well, particularly, but I 
loved it. What happened in that was my major teacher for art 
put out the cubes and squares and the circles. You were supposed 
to make a perfect drawing of them. Well, me do that! Me neat! 
No. I m not neat. I m anything but neat. I could not get those 
things to look right to save my neck. I hated every minute of it. 
It s so sad when you hate the thing you love. I got so I d never 
pick up a pencil. They could not get me to finish out that six 
months. It changed my whole life from that point of view. But 
I had to finish that out, then, my high senior year. 

There is where I see almost a Dewey principle. I think my 
father must have spoken to that teacher for me. I had to finish 
it out my high senior year and that I enjoyed because she took us 
out and had us paint scenes, or something of the kind. I don t 
ever remember saving a picture I painted or being interested in 
it; I only know that I enjoyed it while I was doing it. But 
nothing ever brought back that interest in it to me. 

Well , then the same thing happened to me in botany , and in the 
same school. I took botany and I adored my teacher, Katherine 
Dolbear. I thought she was made in heaven. We would go out in 
the fields, pick our flowers, sit under a tree and dissect them 
right down in their Latin families, their Latin names. It was a 
joy to do. I did it absolutely right and I remembered everything. 


Rowell: It was not a shortcut in any way, and it wasn t compromising 

with learning. It was learning from experience. I never forgot 
the name of anything, either the common name or the Latin name, 
at that era. I ve forgotten the Latin names now. 

She was taken ill. "The next six months," they said, "you re 
going to have another teacher. It s a fine teacher," coming, I 
believe, from the University of California. Here came a man to 
teach us. He had a very different idea of botany; botany was 
looking under a microscope at cross-sections of stems, at algae 
and all sorts of things. We would have to turn in very careful 
drawings of that. I never turned in careful drawings and I hated 
it from the beginning. I wanted to be out. I wanted to know more 
about flowers. 

I got even with him beautifully. I would like to tell about 
it because it suited me to a T. The next summer in Yosemite I 
would go out with the nature man every single day, no matter 
what. He was marvelous. Then he had to leave and they were sending 
in a new one. I couldn t wait, I was right there to meet the new 
one as he stepped off the stage. There was my botany teacher! I 
went along with him the first day. I think I was shocked, but 
not terribly surprised, that he didn t know a single wildf lower 
by name. He very soon found out that I did know them all, so he 
asked me to be there beside him. Every day I was right there 
with him to tell him the names of all the wildf lowers of Yosemite. 
What a joy that was, and what revenge! 

My sister Priscilla was a scientist from the time she was 
born and interested in absolutely everything. She went on to get 
her Ph.D. in a combination of botany and genetics. They told me 
later I did not know it but they would have given her a 
professorship if only she hadn t had diabetes. But they considered 
the diabetes in denying it to her. Isn t that amazing? Even 
though she took such perfect care of herself. 

She was in charge of all the experiment work at the Botanical 
Gardens, in nicotiana. When I went to the South Seas Dr. Goodspeed 
and Dr. Setchell came to my house and asked me to go see the 
people in New Caledonia, to tell them they had to send nicotiana 
back to UC. I hope they did, because I got off the ship early and 
went out in one of the little boats, and went to the big offices 
to give them the messages. [see p. 110] 


An Evening with J.B.S. Haldane 

Rowell: People came from all over the world to UC because it was so well 
known for all its work in nicotiana. Priscilla would come home 
and tell about all these different people being there that day. 
It was really quite boring, one after another. She had wonderful 
people from England, Sweden, from everyplace many of them from 
Russia. When they were later killed, during the horrible things 
there, she was just broken-hearted. 

One day she came home at dinner as usual. She said, "I ve 
been going around with Professor Haldane all day today." I 
said, "Who?" And she said, "Haldane." And I said, "Not J.B.S.?" 
She said, "Yes, J.B.S. Haldane." And I said, "Oh, you can t 
mean that!" She said, "But of course I do! Why?" And I said, 
"Oh, but I ve read so many of his articles. Why he s one of my 
heroes!" She said, "Well, come on. We ll go out to dinner with 
him. I ll call him up." 

So she went right and called the professor with whom he was 
staying. They set it for Friday night. Well, I was on NBC in 
San Francisco at the time. I planned clear ahead. I got my dress 
cleaned and I bought a new artificial flower to put on my dress. 
I was to meet them at the Ferry Building, at the flower stand. 
They told me exactly what boat they were coming on. I got down 
there and I waited and waited. 

People began coming off of that boat, and here I saw my 
sister coming, but someone came in front of them, a man with no 
hat, saggy pants, and of all things he came right up to me! Such 
a time to have somebody come and try to make up to me! It just 
seemed incredible. So, I slapped him in the face. 

He laughed, put out his hand and said, "I m Dr. Haldane." 
I practically collapsed. He had asked what I would wear, and 
where I was to meet them. You can imagine my chagrin! He, being 
the man he was, immediately told me the funniest story. I wish 
I could remember it all. It was something about his going 
some place and falling off his bicycle just at the wrong point. 

Riess: Oh, an embarrassing story. 

Rowell: Yes, a very embarrassing story. He just cleared it right up like 
that. I ve never forgotten that. He was a most charming man. He 
was chiefly interested in San Francisco Chinatown. I was his 
partner for the evening. We went and ate at a Chinese restaurant 
and then went on to a Chinese theatre, where the singing was that 


Rowell: funny singing. It was going to last for two days. So, after 

many hours of it we got up and left, 1 having to broadcast early 
the next morning. It was a wonderful evening. He was a very 
charming man. 

Riess: I think it s interesting that he was one of your heroes, too. You 
really did have the catholic interests. 

Rowell: I always took The Atlantic Monthly and Harper s Magazine, clear 
way back in those days. 

Riess: We talked a lot about your father. When did he die? 

Rowell: My mother died at seventy-two and my father died at eighty-four. 
He didn t retire from the Oakland school system until he was 
seventy-seven, I think. At that time he immediately went around 
the world with my sister, which again shows his desire for 

I should say that my mother s death was a terrific shock to 
him. I didn t realize it would be. We all knew it was coming. 
I was at the hospital when she died, and he was too. I couldn t 
have cried if I had to because she had lived such a wonderful life 
and I knew she was going, as he did. I felt very close to him at 
the time. I never saw a man be more alone than he was afterwards. 
He just didn t know what to do with himself. 

I was broadcasting in San Francisco. They didn t even let me 
off. I think I was able to get over for the funeral services 
which, of course, I had to arrange basically. Everybody thought 
that I played for it, but my wonderful cello teacher, Stanislaus 
Bern, came over and played. Everybody to this day stops to say, 
"Oh, you played so beautifully for your mother s funeral." But 
I didn t. 

The 1933 Alaska Trip, Margaret and her Father 

Rowell: My father was absolutely crushed [by her death]. I was living 
in San Francisco and he would call me everyday. Since I didn t 
take any time off then that was in March they let me take time 
off in the summertime, by letting them know way ahead of time. We 
never had a substitute for the trio. If you couldn t take a job, 
we just didn t play. But we would hand it over to another 
trio. We never had a substitute in all those years. 


Rowell: They gave me two weeks off in the summertime. I told my father 
and he immediately began counting on going to Alaska. Alaska in 
1933 was out there, of course. You have to realize there were 
no airplanes that flew there. He would call me up in San Francisco 
every day. "Well, I ve added this; we re going there." "While 
we re there we might just as well go down the Yukon." So it 
developed into a five week thing instead of a two week vacation. 
The girls were furious with me, but I had to do it for my father. 

I finished playing at NBC in the morning, put my cello up, 
and as I was putting my cello up the announcer announced, 
"Margaret Avery is putting her cello in her bag. She s flying to 
Seattle, Washington and she ll be there tonight ! " That seemed 

There was no bridge then, so I took the ferry boat across. 
There was no San Francisco airport, you understand. Very few 
people can realize that there was only the Oakland airport. My 
sister met me with her car and took me out to the Oakland airport. 
Then we got on. It was a plane that held twelve people. It just 
had those little things across the bottom, and then the wings 
across the top. You could see out and see everything. 

I remember how beautiful it was over the Sacramento Valley. 
This was the summertime. To see those wheat fields and the rice 
fields the rice fields were all deep green, and the wheat fields 
were a tan. Then there were the fields getting ready to be 
planted, dark brown. It was one of the most beautiful sights. 
From that day to this I ve seen that dark, earth color, and the 
light tan and that dark green, in all sorts of patterns it wasn t 
just fields. I thought, "Oh, what a design for a dress! What 
beautiful cloth that would make. Why don t designers get up here 
in the sky and look down for their designs?" 

We flew up just over the side of Mount Eddy. I thought we 
were going to bump into it as our plane just barely cleared the 
top of the trees and went on. I don t know if there was any such 
thing as a bathroom in the plane; I doubt it. And there was no 
food. We landed in a grass field in Oregon some place. They 
had little tents up. They served us fresh fish. 

I was the only woman on board. Overhearing all the men talk 
about how many airplane accidents they d been in, suddenly made me 
at ease. I realized, they re standing here talking about the 
accidents they ve been in. It s like an automobile accident; 
you re alive afterwards. I don t have to worry. It s very 
different from today with an airplane accident. 


Rowell: We flew on and landed. We went immediately to our ship. We never 
thought of flying from Seattle to Alaska. I found out later that 
there was a plane that could have done it, but nobody we knew 
had ever done it. So we took the Inland Passage. 

When we got to Alaska we found that flying was absolutely 
nothing , or I should say everything ! There were no roads in 
Alaska at that time whatsoever. There was nothing open between 
any towns. It was the healthiest place to live. Nobody ever 
heard of locking doors because who could escape? There were no 
roads out from one town to another, and in winter they were closed 
off except for dog sleds. You don t run a dog sled with stuff 
you ve just taken out of somebody s house! Every little town 
had its own little, tiny airplane, those little one-seater things. 
That was the communications in 1933, whereas it wasn t in the 
United States at all. 

We had a wonderful time going by train. We did go down the 
Yukon River in a "back wheeler . " That really was something in 
those days the real old Yukon. There were twelve people on 
board that old back wheel steamer. I steered it quite a bit of 
the way down the Yukon. The sun didn t set or rise. We were right 
at that time of June when we had the sun twenty-four hours a day 
part of the time. We were above the Arctic Circle, at Fort Yukon. 
We got out and saw all sorts of things. I got out with the pilot 
to sound the depths to see where we turned down to get to 
Fairbanks. At Fairbanks we went to Mount McKinley, and then took 
the train on down and the boat back again. It was really a very 
nice trip. 

That got my father started, and there was nothing for the 
next year except going around the world. He thought I would go 
around the world with him, but I couldn t leave the trio. They 
were just furious at me for taking so long. I had been so worn 
out from all of it that they felt they had to give me a vacation. 
My teacher, Stanislaus Bern, came down and played for me all that 

Riess: Of the daughters were you the real soul-mate, do you think? 

Rowell: I don t know. I probably was closer to him than anybody else, 

even in his last days , even though he lived with my sister Marion 
all the time after my mother died. She built a house out here, in 
Berkeley, and he moved out here to Berkeley to be with her. But 
I think he always came to me. I surely loved being with him. 

My father always had had within him that lust for travel. 
(In the book he gave my mother for their wedding in 1886 on going up 
the Nile, he wrote, "I hope we get to take this trip.") I think 


Rowell: from then on there was nothing except going around the world 

for him. That was before the day of airplanes for general use. 
He and my sister Marion started out the next year from 
San Francisco, went through the Panama Canal, spent days at 
Guatemala going up in there getting beautiful things from there, 
and then going across to England, on up to the fjords of Norway, 
Sweden, coming down through Germany and France, meeting our very 
dear friends in Italy, then across to Egypt, where he finally got 
his Egypt in. Then around to India to Bali. He fell in love with 
Bali and the Balinese women. When he came back San Francisco was 
the height of fashion in those days, it was supposed to be the 
best dressed city in the world, but he couldn t see it at all, 
these black suits and great big furs. He said each one of 
their dresses was so beautiful in Bali! He wanted to go right 
back to Bali. 

Then they came to China went clear into the interior of 
China. She brought the most beautiful things they both did from 
China. He was visiting the universities and colleges and they 
were wonderful to him. He knew the presidents and he knew the 
different people. They had a fine time in China. It was that 
interior where people didn t get for years and years afterwards. 
He came home ready to go right back again. 



[Interview 2: September 21, 1982 ]## 

First Musical Impressions, Madame Schumann-Heink 

Rowell: One of the highlights of my young life was when Madame Schumann-Heink 
came to San Jose and sang in a huge auditorium for all the school 
children. I was unaware at the time of the impact that concert had 
on my entire life. 

As I have said I was always shy, but I longed to see her face, 
after hearing her deep contralto voice. I was amazed when someone 
came and took me right up to her, and she gave me a huge bouquet 
of chrysanthemums to hold, and put her arm around me. I of course 
did not tell my family , but I had seen the photographer taking 
pictures, and I knew that they would be in the paper and then 
I would tell my family. 

I hurried to get the paper, and sure enough, the picture was 
on the front page Madame Schumann-Heink and all the dignitaries. 
But all that you could see of me was my patent leather shoes. I 
had held the beautiful bouquet, which was almost as tall as myself, 
directly in front of me! 

However, the impact of her singing, as I look back on it, was 
one of the most important in my whole musical life. I didn t 
realize until I was looking up things for this interview, that 
the very songs she sang were the ones I played and played on my 
cello. I used to play them on the radio. 

This was the first indication, to me, that I was musical. My 
oldest brother and sister had piano lessons , and the teacher 
came to the house and gave them each a half hour. I don t know 
how I picked up the piano, because I didn t have any lessons, but 
I used to sit down and play their pieces. I don t know how I 
learned to read music or anything, but I did. Then I asked 


Rowell: for music lessons, so they gave Priscilla and myself fifteen-minute 
lessons after the teacher finished with my brother and sister. 
She gave us, instead of any music, just the five-finger exercises 
[Czerny] , and I wouldn t practice. They couldn t get me to go to 
that piano and practice. Priscilla practiced faithfully the 
time she was supposed to; I just wouldn t touch it. I gave it up 
completely. But I knew enough piano to accompany my brother on 
the clarinet. When he went to Stanford he played the clarinet all 
the way through. 

But that thing of starting it that way, that affected my 
whole process of starting a person on an instrument not to 
start them merely technically at first , but to give them the 
quality and the sound first rather than only a technical approach. 

Riess: You ve mentioned three clear instances of really negative 
teaching experiences, the art, the botany, the piano. 

Rowell: Yes, and that hasn t come clear to me until I m doing this with 
you, that these negative things had a great deal to do with what 
I would call the approach that supposedly people seem to enjoy in 
my cello teaching, which is to start them very musically. And the 
person of course who has done this so remarkably is Mr. Suzuki in 
Japan with the violin and Paul Rolland in the U.S. They do it 
slightly differently from what I do , but we have very much the 
same ideas. 

Maybe I ve given the impression that I wasn t musical, or 
didn t know I was musical at all. But I don t think that s really 
the way it was . I was always fascinated by so many things about 
music. My father, when he was principal of the high school in 
San Jose, would come all the way home in that little Maxwell of 
his and take me back to the high school every time there was a 
concert. But it was always a band concert. Sousa s band came. 
I didn t know what string instruments were really like, but the 
band I knew by heart. Evidently my father thought I was very 
musical, because he didn t do that to any of the other five 
children, even though they were taking piano lessons. He sensed 

I could always go to the piano and read any music I wanted, 
though I don t think I was ever taught to read it. And I could 
always play their pieces. I loved to sit down and play pieces 
on the piano. They were classical pieces of that time, very 
different from Chopin "Nocturnes" and so on, which were the 
classical things later on. 

Riess: What were the classical pieces of that era? 


Rowell: Probably things that would be written in the Etudes Magazine or 
something like that, and things picked up. 

[telephone interruption] 

Rowell: I realized that I was enjoying music and the way of enjoying 
it without having to take lessons. I was really enjoying the 
process of playing the piano, of making music. I did at some 
point take a few lessons from a teacher in San Jose, Mrs. Brinker, 
who, evidently, thought I was enough talented that she took the 
trip which was quite a trip in those days from San Jose to 
Oakland to give me lessons afterwards. I almost forget about her 
because I was not interested in lessons, but I was interested in 
the music. 

Riess: This is still piano? 

Rowell: Still piano. I didn t ever think of doing much with it, but the 
minute that I got on to the cello, the very moment that I drew a 
bow on a cello, wow! 

Introduced to the Cello, 1914 

Rowell: It was my first year in high school [1914], It was to be my 
fourteenth birthday. My father told me at breakfast that my 
present was a cello. I had no idea what a cello was, even. He 
came to the high school and got me out , and took me over to 
Oakland High, into the basement, and said that I was to have my 
first lesson. I saw this instrument over in a corner. I was just 
amazed at it. I said, "Thank goodness I don t have to blow it!" 
So, that was my first introduction to a cello. 

Pretty soon this very tall, almost homely man came into the 
room, very quietly. My father introduced me to my teacher, who 
was Mr. Herman Trutner, Jr. He became a very great influence on 
my life. He gave me my first lesson right then, and the joy of 
pulling that bow across that string for the first time and getting 
the sound I got was one of the thrills of my lifetime. That s 
something that I ve said to everybody ever since. I just want 
that first time that they hear the sound of a cello to be something 
they really love, instead of the scratch that some people think 
you get for the first few months. You don t. Nobody ever has to 
get an ugly tone out of the instrument. 

So, from the very first I was enchanted with it. It wasn t 
that I ever thought of playing it well; I just really enjoyed it. 
I had a cousin who knew me as the great out-of-doors person I always 


Rowell: was, spending every moment out of doors. She said, "Margaret 
won t stick with that for any time at all. She should have a 
banjo or a guitar, but not a cello." Yet I really loved it. 
Never was I asked to practice. I never could find time enough 
for it, because I was so interested in it. 

Riess: Did you ever talk to your father about how he decided to do that? 

Rowell: He did not choose the cello. Evidently, the minute he got to 
Oakland from San Jose, he went to the head of the music 
department. Oakland, at that time, was developing one of the 
best music departments in the whole country. I wish I could run 
into some of the stuff of that era, just to show you. If I can 
find it, I will. 

Riess: This is all under Herman Trutner? 

Rowell: No. Mr. Glen Woods was really in charge of all of the music for 

Oakland schools, the singing, playing and everything. Mr. Trutner 
was in charge, probably, of the instrumental music. 

The Oakland schools were going ahead by leaps and bounds 
with their whole music program. They were noted for being one of 
the best music programs in the world, actually, not only in this 
country. People came to visit from all over. I have a picture of 
a man coming from Australia to study the music here, and 
eventually being the conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony, which 
is one of the finest symphonies in the country. He was just 
enchanted with what we were doing. They took a picture of some 
of us with him. 

Riess: Does that mean that there were a lot of performers who also came 
to the schools? 

Rowell: People came to visit a great deal, yes, not performers, musicians, 
like conductors and people interested in the teaching of music 
in the schools. 

Riess: You were saying that your father didn t choose the cello. 

Rowell: He didn t choose the cello. He went to, I guess, Mr. Trutner 

himself , the head of instrumental music , and said that he thought 
he would start me off on some band instrument. Now, at that time 
girls just didn t play the cello, but evidently Mr. Trutner said, 
"Why don t you start her on a cello?" And my father said, "Okay." 
So that s the way it happened. I think Mr. Trutner himself chose 
it without ever having seen me. It was just a chance, as these 
things so often are. I think many musicians just play by chance. 
Somebody in their family has played it, or something else, and 
they pick it up. 


Rowell: I was in love with it from the very first moment that I drew 

that bow across the strings. I didn t practice a lot I really 
didn t but I practiced enough so that within about three months 
Mr. Trutner said, "I want you to come and bring your cello and 
play in orchestra." Very soon I was in the orchestra, which 
amazed me, and inside of six months I was the first cellist. It 
was a very musical high school. It had two full orchestras, a 
first and second orchestra, and he put me right in the first chair 
of the first orchestra. 

Riess: Another name in the history of music in Oakland is Annie Florence 

Rowell: Ah, yes! She was the head of culture for all of Oakland. It 

didn t matter what field it was in. It was Annie Florence Brown, 
whether it was bringing lecturers, bringing artists, whether it 
was tending to the city government. Whatever it was, it was Annie. 

She came from a big family and they were all public minded. 
Matilda Brown was a sister. Judge Brown was a brother. I 
taught his son. There is still a Matilda Brown Home for the Aged 
in Oakland. Just a remarkable family. 

Riess: And who was Blanche O Neil? 

Rowell: Blanche O Neil was in charge of music for the Berkeley schools. 
She just died about a month ago, I think. She was a harpist. I 
didn t know her well, but she was a fine teacher. 

I was then taking harmony. By the time I graduated I had 
two years of harmony, which was much better than anything I got 
at the University of California later, I m sorry to say, and 
conducting and orchestration. We did our own orchestrating of 
things for the orchestra, and then we were able to conduct 
whatever we had arranged for orchestra ourselves. The University 
of California was quite a let down; we played much better music 
in our high school orchestra than we did in the Cal orchestra. 

Riess: This sounds like an amazing time, musically. 

Rowell: It was a terrific thing of music in the Oakland schools. I don t 
know what happened. It was basically the people they had in 
charge of music, though. 

Mr. Trutner taught all the different instruments, but trumpet 
was his main instrument. He had already retired from being an 
Army bandmaster when he came to teach in the public schools. He 
taught violin and played the violin and the trumpet. I didn t 


Rowell: know that he played any other instrument, but when he retired 

from the school department, at sixty-five, he went right over the 
next day to the San Francisco Symphony and was taken as a French 
horn player, perhaps the most difficult of all the brass instruments 
to play. 

He was there until he retired at eighty. On the way home 
that day, unknown to the rest of his family, he picked up a 
Cadillac. He drove home to his wife and said, "Now we re going 
to go across the country and see the world!" Which they did. 

He was a remarkable man. What he evidently had was the great 
love of music inside of him and the ability that very few people 
have, and that is the fundamental of teaching, of getting the 
person to hear what they want to play, and to play with good 
quality, good intonation, no matter what the instrument. That 
really is the basis of it. And he gave himself completely to 
what he was doing. 

The Arion Trio is Formed 

Rowell: In no time, it seemed to me it was probably around two years 
he took the first violinist of the orchestra, I being the first 
cellist, and a very fine pianist who played piano for the 
orchestra, and made us into a trio. He picked out the music. 
(I could play them to this day. They were all beautiful classical 
selections for trios.) We always met after achool and he gave 
us trio coachings. We began going all over, playing, and that 
was the beginning of the Arion Trio. 

We were together, specifically, for eighteen years. We 
never played without all three of us playing. We were later 
coached by Louis Persinger, who was Yehudi s first teacher and 
the one who made him come out as a genius , and later by Naoum 
Blinder, who was Isaac Stern s only teacher. Those two great 
San Francisco teachers were really remarkable and we never played 
our big classical trios without good coachings from them. 

He also had us in a string quartet in high school. With that 
we used to travel around to the different colleges. I remember 
going out to Mills College with Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt 
presiding. We came out to UC, too. 

Somehow music really meant a great deal. Of course, you have 
to remember there was no radio in that day and age. There was 
nothing the people could turn on and hear music. All music was 


Rowell: live music, which was a very different thing. There were a few 
records but very few. I had not at that time ever heard a cello 
record. Long after I was playing cello professionally I had 
only heard one cello record, and that was a piece I wouldn t play 

Riess: Were you considered then to be prodigies, the three of you? 

Rowell: No. I never gave that any thought at all. We were in great 

demand because there was nothing of our kind, nothing that could 
fit that thing of calling up and saying, "Will the trio come to 
here or there." 

Playing for the Soldiers, World War I 

Rowell : I think that the thing that probably made us a group quicker than 
anything else was that you would have, ordinarily, to wait for 
professional engagements to come to you but when the war came 
along, in 1917 and 1918, when I was in high school, at that time 
the YMCA was given the complete jurisdiction of all entertainment 
and concerts for the Army, both in this country and in Europe. The 
General Secretary of the YMCA came immediately to us and engaged 
us for concerts for the soldiers. I think it was going and giving 
the hundreds of concerts that we did give for the soldiers, while 
we were still in high school, that gave us a solidity. We had to 
get together and practice every day, no matter whether we were 
going to school or not. 

Riess: Where were the Army concerts given? 

Rowell: The San Francisco Bay was really a center of everything. I wish 
I could get in an automobile and take you to some of the places 
we went to. There were forts all over everyplace. Fort Cronkite, 
Fort Mason. I can t tell you where they all were. Sometimes we 
would take a boat and be met; sometime we would just go by car, 
if it were Fort Mason or something like that. We would never 
know. We would just know that we were going to play a concert 
that night. I can remember taking the boat across to Sausalito 
and going to forts over on the other side. A number of times we 
had to take a boat across to Goat Island, and give concerts 
there. There were many sailors there. Of course, there was no 
Treasure Island then. Treasure Island was built in 1939 for that 
exposition, so it was just called Goat Island in that day. (Yerba 
Buena was its real name.) 


Riess: These were soldiers who were about to be shipped out? 

Rowell: Yes, probably. Also, the whole fleet came into the bay. During 
the last year of the war the whole fleet lay in the San Francisco 
Bay. It was a beautiful sight. I can t tell you how many of 
those great big battle ships. We would have to go there. 

Now, we never went anyplace to play, from the very beginning 
all through this time while I was even in college in 1918, 
without a chaperone. Usually it would be one of our mothers that 
would be sitting there on the side, taking us. So we hardly spoke 
to the soldiers afterwards, even though they would come up. We 
were always very well chaperoned. 

My mother didn t particularly like going out in a small boat. 
We d go out in very small boats to those big battleships, climb 
up the ladders and go down and play for them, carrying that 
cello. It was really quite something. Sometimes my cello case 
got wet. I only had a soft case in those days, so it would get wet 
being splashed while going from one small boat to another. In 
the hold there would always be a piano, and we would play. 

I think that gave me something that I would never have had 
otherwise. I was always an extremely shy person. While I loved 
the cello I did not enjoy performing in front of people. But 
playing in front of a bunch of soldiers whom you knew were going 
right overseas, or else had been seeing service, and having them 
enjoy you, was a good experience. 

It was a very good thing for our trio. Many trios played 
the three orchestra parts, which simply did not sound good. To 
this day I can t stand to hear them. But our pianist very soon 
found that she could arrange music beautifully herself. She 
started arranging all our parts, til we were noted for those 
arrangements. She wrote beautiful cello parts. I ve forgotten 
how many thousands and thousands of dollars we had our library 
insured for. I m afraid most of it is rotting away in my attic 
at this time. It s in very bad manuscript. I could read the 
parts easily. But they were very valuable and everybody wanted 

Playing in Hotels, and Mrs. Morris 

Rowell: There were very fine trios at that time playing in the hotels 

in San Francisco. Without any radio or records the Hotel St. Francis 
and the Fairmont, and those, had Sunday evening concerts. They 


Rowell: published them in the paper ahead of time. You came and had 

dinner, and then went in and listened to the concert. This was 
taken for granted. It s beginning to recur again now, just 
a little bit. 

We played, too, at one of the finest hotels, the Key Route 
Inn, an old-fashioned, beautiful hotel. People would come from all 
over for a Sunday night dinner there and we would give a concert 

Riess: That was in San Francisco? 

Rowell: No. That was in Oakland. But in San Francisco it was the Hotel 
Cecil. I wouldn t say older people, but I didn t realize at that 
time that its clientele were probably couples with quite a bit of 
means, because they were always running to Europe and coming back 
and telling us what to play. [laughter] I remember that time 
after time. 

Mrs. Morris, the owner, had us for year after year. Our 
Thursday evening concert program was always printed and we always 
wore evening dresses. I would run right over from college and 
play. She was simply wonderful to us. 

She owned a hotel in Santa Cruz, the Casa del Rey. She was 
so anxious to have us play down there in the summertime. Well, I 
wasn t about to play there. Santa Cruz was a name to me that I 
didn t like at all. Carmel I loved, but Santa Cruz was where the 
cheap people went and where there was a big beach where you lay 
out, and all this stuff. I didn t like any of that. I was only 
a freshman in college at that time, but I didn t like any of it. 

When she found out that I was the one that was holding it up 
she insisted, in the middle of the year, on taking us down in her 
Cadillac with her chauffeur, and spending a weekend with us down 
there, opening up the hotel and showing us how it was. When she 
found out that I had never swum she insisted on taking me. They 
had a beautiful, huge swimming pool, the biggest one I ve ever 
seen. She took me in and said, "I m going to have you swim." 

She had little pince-nez glasses, and I did, that you 
fastened on the side. She said, "You don t have to take them 
off." Then she said, "I m going to take you to the deep end, I m 
going to tell you to jump in with me and you re just going to 
paddle your feet, you re going to stay up, and we re going to go 
around." I did it all right with her. [laughter] I loved it! 

Riess: She sounds like a very forceful woman! 


Rowell : 

Rowell : 


Rowell ; 

She was remarkable. Finally, my folks went over to see her here 
I was, an adult, but my folks went over to see her and yes, 
they would let me go. I ran into the letter recently which she 
sent back to my folks, saying the conditions under which she 
would take me, seeing that I was well cared for and well supervised. 
And I had to have three weeks vacation to go with my family to 
Yellowstone. That was the Yellowstone trip. That, I think, was 
1919. Anyway, she was just really wonderful to us. 

When I graduated from college she insisted on giving us a 
trip to Los Angeles. She owned a hotel down there. The day after 
I graduated I went over. She had us sleep at the Hotel Cecil 
before we went down. She had her chauffeur again, and her great 
big car. She took us in grandeur down 101 and stopped at the . 
Samarkand Hotel, which was the hotel in Santa Barbara then. It 
was fixed all in oriental style in its grandeur. She gave us 
dinner and, of course, we had the royal suite. 

Then she took us down to Los Angeles. I remember Grauman s 
Chinese Theater had just opened within the last couple of weeks. 
We went over and saw the footsteps all that stuff. 

Did she have you take your instruments on that trip? 

No. It wasn t a working trip. I don t think we played at all. 
We weren t there long, but it was a wonderful stay. She just gave 
us a holiday. Of course, I didn t play [for her] for years and 
years after that, all the time we were on KGO and NBC. But when 
I was married in 1936 she called up to know what kind of a wedding 
present she could send me, which I thought was lovely. 

From the moment that you got together in high school , when you 
performed were you paid? 


And who managed all of that? 

Did your families take care of 

Rowell: Oh, no. Our families didn t pay any attention to us in this. I 
was the manager for all the first few years. I think I was a 
very bad manager. Of course, the YMCA paid us whatever they 
paid us. It was not great pay, I can assure you, in those days. 


Joyce Holloway Barthelson, Pianist and Arranger 

Rowell: I was just speaking with our pianist [Joyce Barthelson]. I talk 
to her almost every week, in New York. She did leave in the 
beginning of 1933 for New York. She played first in the New York 
Women s Symphony. Then she went on to do a great deal of composing 
and work on her own. She eventually married Ben Steigman, the 
principal "of the Music and Arts High in New York which was , as 
you know, one of the outstanding schools that produced so many 
wonderful musicians and artists. 

She went on with her composing. Carl Fischer would buy 
anything she wrote. She wrote about sixty pieces for Carl Fischer 
under another name, for mainly high school choirs. But sometimes 
she used her own name. When my son Galen was in Berkeley High 
he came home and said, "We re singing one of Joyce Barthelson s 
songs." The man conducting, of course, didn t know that I had 
had anything to do with her, or knew of her at all. 

She s on her fifth opera now, just finishing it and having 
a hard time with the very last of the orchestration. Her other 
four operas have been done by the New York Opera Guild. For 
the bicentennial of this country, in 1976, they had two of her 
one-act operas done in the new Kennedy Center in Washington, 
which I thought was very nice. So, she s gone ahead quite a bit. 

Riess: Was her training the same as yours, or had she begun earlier? 

Rowell: She had taken lessons from a teacher, not a prominent teacher 
of any kind. None of us had great backgrounds with our 
beginnings what would be considered anything at all. But she 
could play anything. She had that kind of an ear, and facility 
and musicianship. We didn t realize how fine it was. 

I think that she was in a great way responsible for the trio 
doing what it did. We could not have gone far without three good 
sounding parts. She says now she doesn t see how she did it. 
She went on with her study in New York with very fine teachers 
in composition, theory and everything else. She hadn t gone on 
to the university to have her theory, as I did, but her own inner 
ear was a very musical one, and it heard what it wanted. 


Rowell: I don t think we would be considered great now, by the high 

standards of the Beaux Art Trio. But the fact is that it was 
very musical, always good music, well arranged for the three 
instruments , and we had excellent ensemble and played as one, 
not three. 


Rowell: She [Joyce] played piano for one of the finest vocal teachers 

in the region at that time, Mrs. Carol Nicolsen. She [Nicolsen] 
taught the singers, men or women, who were on NBC later. 
Whenever there was a tryout, without knowing it, they always 
took her students. The amazing thing is she hadn t sung a note 
since she was in her early forties , but she knew how to teach 

I m always interested in this. You have to carry it inside 
yourself what you re teaching not outside. You don t have to 
say, "Reproduce what I m doing," and try to make them do what 
you do. You have to make them know how to do it for themselves. 
She was able to do that whether it was a basso profundo or a 
coloratura soprano. 

Riess: All the time that you were in college Joyce was going on with 
other musical work? 

Rowell: Yes. She played for this lovely vocal teacher. She used to make 
wonderful arrangements of some of those songs in the lieder. She 
would take the Schumann, the Schubert and the Brahms lieder, all 
sorts of things and make them into trio numbers. It gave us a 
lead over the other trios who had only the regular trio literature, 
the Brahms, the Schubert and the Haydn trios, which, of course, 
we played, and then orchestra music. But you can t make a two-hour 
program out of them day after day. But we could do so out of 
our library, which I imagine held somewhere around five thousand 
to ten thousand numbers in it. We could really build programs 
continually out of that. 

Riess: Could you explain to me what was wrong with the trio arrangements, 
that Joyce improved upon? 

Rowell: That s very simple. If you were to take the cello, violin and 
piano parts from anything, the violin would have the melody 
always; the cello would never have the melody. The piano would 
be thumping away on something, which would be the chords filled 
in. The cello would have, usually, either a bass part or a very 
peculiar part fill in. 

Not as she always arranged it. Sometimes the cello would 
have the melody, sometimes the violin would have the melody. The 
other would usually have a counter melody, and this she would make 
up out of the harmony itself. She would make up a much better 
one than the orchestra part, because there would have been a second 
violin and a viola in between the first violin and the cello part 
in any orchestral thing. Out of the combination of those would come 
this part to her. I think she was the genius. 


Riess: When a piece is "arranged," that means that a lot of original 
work has been done? 

Rowell: Not always. Sometimes they ve done almost nothing to it. For 

instance, if this cello solo has been arranged, and they ve taken 
a violin part and put it in the cello range, and then put it with 
piano, they ve done nothing to it. That s what they ve done a 
great deal. But if they really have made new parts, then they 
have really arranged it. 

Riess: Who were Joyce Holloway s teachers? 

Rowell: She took mainly from Eva Garcia, here, who was not in any way 

as near as fine a pianist as she was, and most certainly didn t 
have the capacity to do the things that she did with the piano. 

Later on, on NBC, they used her a great deal as a pianist 
for their different soloists. Most certainly if they had 
auditions they would use her. It would be amazing to see a 
great opera person come from New York and say, "Oh, no. I need 
that thing a half a tone lower . " She could go in and play it 
for them a half a tone lower. 

She could play the popular music all the jazz music of 
that time just as well as the classical. I wouldn t do it. I 
wouldn t sink that low. Even when we played at a hotel, long 
before I was doing other things, and people came requesting the 
popular numbers of the day, I would let her play them alone. I 
wasn t going to touch them on the cello. 

Riess: That was really your attitude, that that was beneath the dignity 
of the instrument? 

Rowell: Yes. Very much. Everybody would request "Sweet Little Buttercup." 
I would put my cello down and the piano would play it. It 
wasn t that I couldn t play it. 

Riess: Was this something that the three of you would hash out ahead of 

Rowell: No, not at all. They never criticized me for it; they never 

even expressed anything about it. Of course, when Joyce could 
play that type of music as brilliantly as she did, it suited 
everybody. That s what they wanted to hear. 

We can t get over the fact that in trio we did not have 
disagreements. I shouldn t say that. We probably had disagree 
ments, but we never had any quarrels. People don t understand 
three girls and three is a hard number going along for years 
really enjoying playing together. 


Riess: When you got together was music your main interest? 

Rowell: No. We had loads and loads to talk about. We three, particularly 
Joyce and myself, discussed everything under the sun. We didn t 
discuss music mainly. We were terribly interested in the world 
involved in the world and the world situations. 

For instance, going to the Hotel Cecil from campus I was 
taking an economics major as well as a music major I was 
carrying all my heavy textbooks. I would do whatever studying I 
could do between times, and of course always on the boat going 
across. We would discuss the economic times. They were very 
bad in those days, and went through some terrific days. 

I guess it was my economics courses in college that changed 
me from being a good dyed-in-the-wool Republican into a real 
Democrat. By that I mean a complete liberal. My family never 
criticized me for it. During all the upheaval in San Francisco I 
was for the longshoremen I was for all of this and very interested 
in all the social upheavals of the times. When I read of Sara 
Bard Field, later on, oh how I was impressed with the things that 
she stood for.* Should I jump into that now? 

Riess: No. We ll get that later. 

Rowell: Getting back to the music, I left myself in music in high school 
with Mr. Trutner and his great influence, not only on me, or 
the trio, but on music itself for the whole city of Oakland, 
where he was idolized. I have a picture of him that the city of 
Piedmont published on his hundredth birthday, long after he was 

I was just sent this week the announcement for the Herman 
Trutner Memorial Concert, out at Holy Names College. His son 
taught out there, also. He had a number of children, but this 
son was musical and died quite early and they have a Herman 
Trutner Concert every year out there. 

His influence, most certainly, has gone right straight on 
down through the years. 

Riess: Can you remember in high school awakening to the fact that this 
was the beginning of a career? 

*Rowell had been reading Field, Sara Bard, Poet and Suffragist, 
an oral history conducted 1961-1963, Regional Oral History Office, 
University of California, Berkeley, 1979. 

"The Arion Trio, a group 
of three young women from 
university circles, are 
playing themselves into the 
affections of large bay 
section audiences." 
Alameda Times Star s Alameda, 
California, April 21, 1924. 

Right: Arion Trio, 1930 
Left to right, Margaret 
Avery, Joyce Holloway, 
Josephine Holub. 

Photograph by W. Seely. 

Below: Arion Trio, 1924 
Margaret Avery, cello; 
Joyce Holloway, piano; 
Josephine Holub, violin. 


Rowell: No. It was just so simple. Everybody did something after school. 
One day we would have a trio coaching , the next a quartet 
coaching. It was something we took completely for granted. I 
don t know whether my folks looked on it any differently or not. 
They had to go with us when we played in the evenings, but we 
didn t have a whole lot of engagements. I told you how we got 
our name? 

Riess: No. 

Rowell: Evidently the high school Latin teacher, Miss Martin, was a very 
fine singer. She was going to give a concert, so she asked us if 
we would assist her. She said that she was going to put down our 
name, The Oakland Technical High School Girls Trio, on the 
program. She insisted that we find another name. I thought that 
she came with all the names, but evidently my mother had had the 
name Arion on a quartet when she was in college. So we chose the 
name, Arion, right then and there in high school, and she thought 
that was fine because Arion was a Greek god of music who saved 
his life by riding a double bass, when he was shipwrecked, to 
land and safety. 

Frances Wiener and Josephine Holub, Violinists 

Rowell: Josephine Holub was our violinist for years, all through college 

and our KGO days, on to our NBC days, from 1916 probably to 1932, 

which is a long time. She married at that time and didn t want 
to keep up her violin as much. 

We began looking around for another violinist, which was a 
very hard thing for us to do. We tried out quite a number. We 
finally got Frances Wiener. She had just graduated from Curtis 
Institute which, as you know, is one of the finest places in the 
country to graduate from. They recommended her highly to us. We 
had to break her in, of course, to all our manuscript things, our 
reading and everything else. But she fitted in beautifully. 

The amazing thing is, I always felt so inadequate to these 
people who graduated from conservatories because I d never had 
any of that training or a great-name teacher, and of course she 
had had all of these people. Yet Joyce would always make me play 
the phrase to show her how it was to go. She could play the 
notes so beautifully but Joyce would always say, "Now, listen to 
where " I never knew what was happening because I never felt 
that. I realize now that I always heard that phrase; where the 
phrase was going to go was what meant something to me, whereas 
it didn t necessarily as much to her, in that day. 


Rowell: I think it is very interesting to note and I might as well put 

it in here that we were, all three, single and unmarried. Joyce 
did marry later and separated. We all eventually married men very 
much older than ourselves. I think that we needed it. All our 
discussions between numbers we were discussing not trivialities. 
We never spent any time hardly discussing beaux or things like 
that. We were always discussing the world of men who were writers 
and doers. We were all interested in the social good of the 
country. We were so interested in the underdog and what was 
happening to the country at that time. 

I later married Professor Edward Z. Rowell from the university. 
Joyce married Ben Steigman. Frances Wiener married Lev Shorr. 

I have to go ahead here. I played up to the night before I 
was married. The trio was absolutely astounded when I told them 
I was going to be married. They didn t know what to do. My 
husband insisted that I not go on playing professionally. When I 
left, the pianist said, "Well, I m not going to stay on if 
Margaret doesn t." That was a great blow to me because I had 
never thought but that the trio would go right on. We had our 
broadcasting at that time, which was every night. 

Frances called Lev Shorr, who was the greatest pianist 
around at that time. He was Yehudi s accompanist, he was the 
pianist for the San Francisco Symphony, and he taught so many of 
the fine people, like Stephen Bishop, who is in England now as a 
great pianist. Lev said, "I don t know anybody to recommend, but 
I ll come and play myself," which he did. He took over right 
after I was married and Frances finally married him. 

Riess: Oh, I see. 

Rowell: So, we all married husbands a great deal older, and men who were 
each completely outstanding in their own field, which I think was 
very interesting. We really were not interested in the average 
young person of own age. 

Riess: During those years, were you dating young men? 

Rowell: No. We were not dating young men hardly at all. Joyce was 

married before. Frances did have a boyfriend, but we didn t talk 
about it . 


Dressing to Perform 

Rowell : 


Rowell : 

You were three very attractive girls in the picture. 

We were most certainly not aware of it in any way whatsoever, 
most certainly never thought of myself as even good looking, 
don t think we were particularly good looking. 

Of course, in those days we had to have mobs and mobs of 
dresses. Whether the people do nowadays or not, I don t know. 
Just this last week I was going to put on a dress I wore back 
then for one of my friend s forty-seventh anniversary. I thought, 
"Well, I ll put on one that s older than that," which I have. I 
think I had about twenty good evening dresses when I married my 
husband. I haven t thrown them away; I ve given several of them 

Was your mother still making them for you? 

Not after I was on NBC. She died in 1933. She had made them all 
the way through college, but after that I was on my own. 

Did the three of you try to dress in a similar sort of way? 

Our evening dresses, that we did discuss. I was always just a 
little bit disappointed. The violinist was the only one of us 
who had a very great eye for dress. She was a very fine sewer 
also. Her dresses had to be just exactly so. She d run out 
and pick one first and it was very easy for her because she played 
the violin. But I had to have a full skirt. This was not the 
era of full skirts in the least. The dresses of that age were 
terrible for playing the cello in. My older sister finally 
pursuaded me to have a scarf made to put across my knees when I 
played, which I did a great deal. 

A violinist can play with any kind of dress, and beaded 
dresses were very much in vogue. You can t play in a beaded dress 
against the cello, even though I did buy one. But I had to put 
a scarf around me while I played. Our violinist would run out 
and buy first, and I would have to get a color to go with it. We 
always discussed color of dresses and I always ended up the third 
one , having to get what color would go with the other two , plus 
the thing that I some way had to be able to play that cello, 
even though I see some of the pictures which show me with one foot 
put clear under in order to get by in some way and not hold it 
between my knees as is done today entirely. It was a very great 
hardship for me to find a good evening dress to play in. 


Riess: What is the ideal thing? 

Rowell: Zara Nelsova, the great cellist, wears the ideal thing, as did 

Madame Guilhermina Suggia before her. That is a really bouffant 
skirt, sort of an old-fashioned dress. 

[pause in tape to find a picture of Madame S.] 

Trio Music and Programming 

Riess: Were you always a trio? Why not a quartet? 

Rowell: We were always a trio, just the violin, cello and piano. 

Riess: That was the most popular thing to do? 

Rowell: No. It s basically the way music is written. 

Riess: But now all we hear are quartets. 

Rowell: Yes, and we played string quartet in high school also. But that s 
a totally different thing. There were about two quartets in the 
world, then, that were well known. Now quartets have become 
the thing, I will say, and it s wonderful that they have, because 
the finest of all music is written for them, most certainly. I 
think the string quartet is the ultimate. I like it better than 
symphony orchestra or anything, as far as pure music goes. 

But a trio of violin, cello and piano has much more leeway 
in what they play. The amount of music they can play is endless 
while the string quartet can only play what is written for those 
four instruments. You don t rearrange something for a string 
quartet. We could play all the violin solos all the Kreisler 
solos by fixing a very good cello part to go with them, sometimes 
transferring one to the other. But you couldn t do that with the 
string quartet music. It s classical, to be played in concert 
in a hall. 

A quartet would play three numbers during the evening, at 
the most. We would have to play fifteen numbers during an 
evening, the shorter numbers and much more contrast. I think 
one of the things that made us go ahead was the ability to 
arrange an interesting program. With the amount of library we 
had we were able to do that. 


Rowell: Our violinist, Josephine Holub, was the best one at arranging a 

program of any of the three of us. She probably didn t go as far 
in music but she could get that thing of one number being the 
contrast with the other, or fitting right in with it, and arrange 
a program that was going to be very interesting in the end. 

In that era there were more shorter numbers done than there 
are today. We go to hear the symphony and they have a Shostakovich 
symphony that will last forty minutes maybe, and maybe an 
overture or something like that to begin with. But in that day 
back there I go back to old programs the symphony even sometimes 
played one movement from the symphony. When a violinist comes 
he will play three sonatas. It s just beginning to change. 

Some of the people who are making the change [are] some of 
the violinists, and cellists. It s quite interesting. Casals 
always gave the first half of the program to a sonata, or maybe 
two, and the second half always short numbers. What made him so 
popular were those wonderful short numbers that he used to do. 
People sneer, practically, at short numbers on a concert program, 
but they are just beginning to bring them back. They re beautiful 

Riess: You would, perhaps, not play the repeats? 

Rowell: No. I don t mean that at all. It s the type of music. For the 
evening programs such as we gave at the hotels we never played a 
straight trio all the way through, like a Beethoven trio. We 
might take a movement from a trio and play it, but you didn t 
play a whole movement of thirty minutes while people sat and 
listened to you. 

Riess: Is that because you felt your audience was basically a transient 
and a restless audience? 

Rowell : It was not that , it was that nobody did it . When you went to a 

hotel to play, it was not the type of concert that you would play. 
If we were in a great big hall, we would play the whole trio. 
As I say, it would be the same way with the symphony and everything. 
There was this complete change from that to the thing of playing 
nothing but the large scores, without any short numbers. 

A shorter number is usually something that the composer has 
written for the instrument. A big number is something he has 
written in several movements for the basic architecture of the 
music rather than in any way trying to show off the instrument. 


Issue of Purism; Phrasing in Modern Music 

Riess: Did you discuss the puristic aspects of this? Did you yearn to 
play the whole thing because of the integrity of it? 

Rowell: No. Nobody ever thought of it. It was a different era and you 
had to live in that era to see it. All of this great classical 
came on later, when you had to be pure. Thank goodness it wasn t 
then! I think we ve gone completely overboard in this trying to 
be absolutely pure and do just what the composer intended. 
Therefore, you don t put in an expression mark that he hasn t put 
in. I can t understand that at all. From the composers I know 
and have seen, they are absolutely excited when the performer 
himself puts in more than they thought was there. To me, to see 
a mezzo forte, then a forte, and then twenty-four measures later 
a piano, doesn t give you much indication. 

Rowell: If I would read this [picking up a paper] the way I feel many 

people want the music read [reading] "We were grateful for the 
smallest of mercies we were glad when there was time to delouse 
before going to bed although in itself it was no pleasure." [no 
intonation] That s the way I read if I m reading the notes 
right straight along. 

Riess: Yes. No expression. 

Rowell: But the composer just took it for granted, especially in those 
old days , that you were going to make music out of it and that 
you were going to make sense out of what he was writing. [reading] 
"We were grateful for the smallest of mercies. We were glad " 
and so on, is the way you would read it. I feel so decidedly that 
it is left for the musician to see where it s going and what it s 
trying to say. We ve gone completely overboard. 

I ve found this when I was with musicians. I ve seen it over 
and over. I remember somebody telling of going to a composer 
and playing the piano part, and playing a chord that had the 
lines up and down to spread the chord out. [broken chord] He 
didn t. He played it all as one. He asked the composer and the 
composer said, "I couldn t do it; I ve got a small hand." You see, 
it s just little things like this. Also, composers are very glad 
when you sometimes say, "Can I change this with this?" and they 
say, "Oh, that s better." Very often the composer will be happy 
for what the person does with it. 


Rowell: I think that we ve gone through a whole era now when we thought 
that we couldn t do anything with it, and our music has been 
absolutely dead where it should be alive. I think the singers 
are the only ones who ve made it come alive, because they always 
have words; opera has had to make their music come alive. Opera 
has not been afraid to put in expression all these years, but 
other people have left it out for the goodness of the composer, 
and modern music, particularly, because they don t put in bar lines 
and everything else, they think that it doesn t go anyplace. 

Riess: I could understand that maybe there s a worship of the note as it 
has come down, perhaps, from Beethoven. But for Stravinsky, 
wouldn t orchestras now feel that he was so close to being a 
contemporary that they could rearrange? 

Rowell: Well, but I would say that to hear Beethoven played as I think he 
wanted it played, with the warmth that he wanted, instead of just 
giving, as I have heard, a good performance of Beethoven, note 
for note I do feel that you have to get into the composer. You 
have to know what he was like, what he wanted, and what type of a 
human being he was. 

Beethoven was and always will be my favorite. I ve been in 
love with him all of my life and I know that I probably would have 
not enjoyed one minute with him personally. Most certainly, if I 
had been married to him, it would have been an impossibility. He 
was happy one moment and absolutely furious the next. I always 
see him going up against a stone wall, bumping his head into it, 
and then turning around and being a different individual. I see 
him being absolutely impossible, and great. 

Riess: Perhaps people are worshipful, though, of the older composers 

and unwilling to tangle with them, and yet willing when they have 
modern music? 

Rowell: No. I would say that it s just the opposite, to a certain extent. 
I feel that the older music has come down, perhaps, with the 
tradition of making it say something. Therefore, we still love 
it because it really says something. But in these last few years 
I have had more joy in getting hold of these modern compositions 
that people write at the University of California and elsewhere, 
one right after the other. I have to teach those people to play 
them in Hertz Hall for a big concert. 

I would say the Imbrie concerto is one of the most difficult 
things written for the cello so difficult that I gave a copy of 
it to Rostropovich but I don t think he plays it. I know that he 
can play it, but it is very, very difficult and to get any meaning 
out of it is almost impossible. 


Riess: That makes it sound like a failure as a musical composition. 

Rowell: Well, no, after working and working and working with it the 
whole thing is to see where the line leads. You have to see 
that there is music in it. If it s in the twelve tone row 
and they re only interested in getting those twelve tones in, 
it is hard to find, but it is there. They have to play it so 
that it has sentences, and sentences with commas. 

I had this out with my son. He happens to be a writer and 
often gives me his manuscripts. I ll go along and put in commas 
every once in a while. He ll say, "Mother, you know commas are 
out-of-date completely. Nobody puts in commas anymore when they 
write. You just have to put them in for yourself when you read." 
This is really true. 

I think that music has taken that on until modern music 
seems to be going on and on endlessly when you see it. They may 
put in expression marks like a double forte and a sforzando. 
But to find out where it s leading and what it s trying to say, 
well, of course many of them aren t saying anything. I had a 
young composer taking lessons from me for a long time. He would 
come from school right here and if I were doing something else at 
all he would pick up his pencil and go on composing. I would 
always say, "You just sit down and do it?" He said, "Why, yes, 
of course. It s all mathematical. I can do it anyplace, anytime." 

I think this has gotten over to many of the young people. 
They do work it out, very definitely, but I really don t think they 
have any idea of the impact of music on the human soul. A great 
deal of modern music does not have that in it. Some does, and 
when the modern music has it it s wonderful. I don t think it s 
even begun to explore the possibilities. I m not against discord, 
at all. I am against music that just goes on and on without 
having commas and periods taking you so that you understand where 
you re going. 

Riess: Had you heard Imbrie play this piece, or had anyone played it 
as Imbrie had expected it to be played? 

Rowell: One other person, also a former student of mine, had played it 
with the Oakland Symphony years ago and I had not enjoyed it. 
This time we worked it and worked it through until the first 
performance with the Cal Symphony came off very well, I thought. 
But it could so easily take itself down into being only notes, 
and notes going someplace being very difficult against an 
orchestra. It would be hard to play, but rewarding. The minute 
that we really got a phrase to go some place, no matter if it 
sounded like a jumble of notes, it was still very good. 


Riess: Would Imbrie turn up at the performance of the Cal Symphony and 
afterwards say, "That was interesting," or "That was good?" 

Rowell: Well, he worked right with us on it at the last. I think we got 
it to go pretty much as he wanted it to go. He had ideas of it 
going places, very definitely. It has to. 

I think maybe the beat got in there in music. People seem to 
enjoy it. The young people have to have that beat going all the 
time. It drives me wild. The beat takes over then, to me, what 
the music has to say. 

Time and the beat are two totally different things. Time is 
something more as we live it. One hour is a little bit fuller 
than another hour. They re both the same space but they have 
different things within them. Music has to be considered so. I 
do see that it has to go on as time goes on, but it s what s 
inside of that measure that is important to bring out and one 
measure is different from another in its content. I don t mean 
that you vary the tempo a great deal, but within that tempo. 

Casals perhaps carried it a bit too far for people he 
didn t carry it too far for me because he would stretch just 
the least little bit. Give and then take. I wouldn t call it 
rubato, but it was a beautiful sense of the importance of some 
notes. Just as I am speaking now and using some words with a 
little bit more emphasis than others. I feel that the composer 
thinks that a person is going to do that in his music, without 
him telling where to put it. 

I remember my husband working with me at one time because 
I made the emphasis always in the wrong place in speaking. I 
think I still do, but at least people can understand me. But if 
you are going to just speak along and expect them to do it all 
themselves, it s very, very dreary. 

Riess: It sets up a kind of tension because people wait to hear where 
it s going. It s difficult if you don t get it. 

Rowell: Music should be a tension and a release all the way through. 
That s living. 

Riess: If there s tension and no release, that s when people get up, 
leave their chair and simply walk out. 

Rowell: Yes. But tension and then release is something so beautiful. 
I expect us to do it in the future much more. I think we re 
just coming to do it. I m always feeling that we re in a period 
of music where we re working around the new mediums so completely. 


Rowell: Some of them I like; some of them I don t like at all. I m 

just waiting for a Bach to come along, as he did at the very end 
of an era. It took me years to know how little he was played 
after he died because they d turned to something newer. He 
culminated a whole era. 

Somebody should come along and grab all these ends that 
are going off every place into a Greek Theatre jazz afternoon, 
a symphony concert, an opera, all of these things, and begin to 
have something where the music will be more alive than the regular 
beat beat of today, more meaningful and more content within it. 
The beat doesn t have to have much content, because the beat is 
everything. The beat carries itself. But the beat with content 
is something very magic. 

The 1915 Exposition, and the Musicians Who Came to San Francisco 

Riess: What musical groups, chamber music groups, did you have to listen 
to, other than your own? I assume recordings were few. 

Rowell: Yes. In the twenties sometime, there were the first of the old 

fashioned records, the 78rpms. We always heard of Casals, Cortot 
and Tiebaud as the greatest trio in the world, and I would say 
in the thirties they had their Beethoven trio record out. I 
remember hearing it and thinking it was the greatest thing I d 
ever heard in my life. 

What helped us a great deal [to understand how it would sound] 
in those days was our coachings with Louis Persinger and Naoum 
Blinder. I remember going to Persinger and spending probably a 
whole hour on twenty-four measures, maybe forty-eight measures, 
of a Brahms Hungarian dance, just to get that wonderful thing 
[sings the passage] exactly right. That hasn t got the beat, 
but that has that wonderful thing of rhythm. Today I almost 
never hear it played the way I want it played. 

Persinger would not accept anything except just exactly 
the perfection of what he wanted. I can t remember his teachers 
right now, but I guess it was Ysaye, who of course did them with 
Brahms . When you had these things coming down as directly as 
that to you, and could get the feeling of them inside you, you 
knew what was demanded out of the music. 

And let me put one thing more in your mind. In those years 
San Francisco was such a town, with such a history. In 1915 
was the great exposition. There s only been one exposition in 


Rowell: history, in any of our part of the world, before the 1915 and 

that is the Paris Exposition, when the Eiffel Tower was built, in 
the 1800s. The Chicago one in the 1880s didn t compare to the 
1915 Exposition. It really brought together people from all 
over the world. They came here for that. There simply had never 
been anything like it, and there hasn t been since. 

I don t think we realize, when we go by the San Francisco 
Marina now, that that was all built-in land. I have here a map 
of the San Francisco Bay with all the different shipping lanes 
clearly marked, for the ships coming in from Mexico, Central 
America and the Panama ports; for the ships coming in from New York 
and Europe via South America ports; the ones coming in from 
Australia and New Zealand. The next line, clear over is Honolulu 
and Guam. The next is Japan, China and the Philippines. The 
next is from Alaska, and the next from Puget Sound and the coast, 
[looking at drawing] Can you see those things coming in from 
the Golden Gate through there? Can you imagine what that meant 
to San Francisco in those days? What made San Francisco was that 

Then, to see what they did architecturally for the Exposition. 
The only thing remaining, of course, is the Palace of Fine Arts. 
Everybody thinks, "Ah, yes. That s great." But that was such an 
incidental thing. 


Rowell: I believe the Berkeley pier was built for the Exposition, if 

you ve ever wondered about that pier that goes out there and dead 
ends at nothing now. The boats ran from there to the Exposition. 
And they ran from the Oakland pier to the Exposition. So, you 
didn t have to go to the Ferry Building, you just went direct 
from here. 

There was no limit to the wealth put in, or to what the 
different countries could send at that time. And there was no 
feeling of differences. There wasn t such a thing as one country 
sending and not another country sending; we were all one world. 
David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford, said at that time 
there couldn t possibly be another war. We were too civilized for 

Here is a view taken at night. You cannot imagine the 
brilliance of that place at night! 1 don t think electricity 
meant a thing. If you can imagine what goes into just one Arch 
of the Rising Sun! All these things were destroyed so soon 
afterwards, I suppose to make room for real estate. I never 
thought of it at that time. 


Rowel 1 : 

Rowell : 

Of course, the Court of the Four Seasons was simply beautiful. 



Rowell : 

Did teachers prepare students in some way to appreciate it? 
did they just go and wander around? 


Oh, I guess so. I did go with teachers, but very little. I was 
a freshman in high school. I went on my own. I m afraid my 
sister says that I kept running for the place where they sold 
scones, which everybody did, and stood in line for them. 

This is a perfectly beautiful book put out by Paul Elder, 
the great book man of San Francisco. This book is Architecture 
and Landscape Gardening of the Exposition. I had about three 
books that went together with this. 

Neuhaus did, The Art of the 

I ve seen the one that Eugen 

Yes. That I have too. 

You all knew, when you were there, that it was going to come 
down, but it must have seemed inconceivable. 

I don t think I knew that. I don t think I thought that that 
could ever come down. It was so permanent. 

I think it s the statuary that got me. That s when "The 
Thinker" came, Rodin with it, and that s when Saint-Saens came 
over, and conducted. That Exposition changed the face of 
San Francisco, because these people kept pouring in. Most had 
to come by boat, of course, but they came from every place there, 
traveled across the country from Europe to get there. 

I had just taken up the cello, as I told you. I got it on my 
birthday, December 11, 1914, and this started in 1915. So I d 
been playing almost no cello at all. My mother loved the Exposition. 
Her sister came out from Montana to go to it. The two of them 
were over visiting one day at the Exposition and they heard 
music. They started going toward the music and my mother said 
that she almost fainted when she saw me sitting there it was the 
Tech High orchestra, of course playing the cello, because she d 
never seen me play the cello before in public. [laughter] Of 
course, I wouldn t tell my family I was going to do anything 
like that. I never told them when I was going to play any place. 
But, that was brand new to me, to go over and play at the 


Rowell: San Francisco had always been a cultural center. Wasn t it 

Caruso who was at the opera house during the 1906 earthquake? 
San Francisco had been that. But when these musicians came 
from all over every place to that Exposition and saw it, they 
fell in love with San Francisco and they never left it. 

Alfred Hertz came from the Metropolitan Opera to the 
Exposition, stayed on, and died in San Francisco in 1942. He 
was, of course, the conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, 
and built up everything. Being both the leading German conductor 
and then New York conductor, you can imagine the musicians who 
saw to it that they came to San Francisco. 

It was he who brought Louis Persinger, who was the concert 
master of the Berlin Philharmonic before that, who had studied 
under Ysaye. He was the concert master of the San Francisco 
Symphony for years, and one of the finest. (One of his students 
was Yehudi. Francis Shorr studied with him at the same time.) 
I ve mentioned we went to him for coaching. I had no idea of 
that background of his when we would go over there, ring his 
doorbell, and take coachings from him. 

The caliber of music in San Francisco was remarkable. It 
was first class. They re always talking of going back to Alfred 
Hertz s days now. They think there hasn t been another great 
conductor until Pierre Monteux. 

They formed a beautiful quartet which was Louis Persinger, 
first violin, Louis Ford, second violin, Nathan Firestone, viola, 
and Horace Britt, cello. Horace Britt would always give me 
tickets to come over and hear them play. It was known as the 
San Francisco String Quartet, made out of the symphony members. 
It was interesting that when the Pro Arte Quartet, the outstanding 
quartet in the whole world at that time, from Belgium, when 
their violist broke his arm they sent right to San Francisco for 
Nathan Firestone to come over and take his place, which he did. 

Riess: Performers were drawn here by the beauty of the place, the 
Exposition and everything, but they stayed here. What did 
San Francisco really have to offer? 

Rowell: Jenny Lind was here at the time of the Gold Rush. Musicians did 
make their way here. Caruso was here. I think that all of this 
would tend to say that. San Francisco was always a cultural 
center. It always had the artists, the musicians. Along with 
that, the Exposition gave it the center of being world-wide. 


Rowell: They told me that in this country it was New York, then 

Salt Lake City, and then San Francisco, for all the great 
artists. They made a stop on the train for Salt Lake City 
because, as you know, music means a very great deal to the 
Mormons. They had the great singers come. And, of course, the 
Mormons believe in the theater very decidedly. (That s one 
reason the Puritans didn t like them, [because] they loved 
music and the theater and went ahead with those things.) Your 
artists coming out, many of them gave something in Salt Lake City, 
then came on to San Francisco. But never Los Angeles. 

Riess: Well, of course, there was always wealth here. 
Rowell: Yes. I only wish there was some of it now. 

Riess: These musicians, did they then come over to the university and 
become involved with the university in some way? 

Rowell: No, not at all. San Francisco was San Francisco. Berkeley wasn t 
noted for its music at all. No, they were so busy with the 
symphony . 

What I was trying to say was that these people formed that 
string quartet, which was a real quartet for here. Horace Britt 
gave me tickets, so I always went over and attended those string 
quartets , and thought they were the most marvelous thing I had 
ever heard, never having heard a string quartet before. 

That Exposition was, I think, in every way an expanding 
experience. I m just so sorry that the Palace of Fine Arts is the 
only thing that is left. 

Riess: And then, the war. 

Rowell: Well, the world war was actually on, when you stop to think of 
it, at that time in Europe. 

Riess: So, wasn t it strange that a German conductor would come to this 

Rowell: Yes. You know, really, that s interesting, that even though there 
was that war in Europe at that time, it shows how long it took 
us, as Americans or me, as a child, maybe I should say to absorb 
the fact that there was a tremendous war going on. 


Horace Britt, Cellist and Teacher 

Rowell: I should talk more about Horace Britt. My teacher until I 

graduated from high school was Mr. Trutner. Mr. Trutner wanted 
me to go to somebody else, but I went to Horace Britt, who was 
then the solo cellist with the San Francisco Symphony and rated 
as one of the five greatest cellists in the world at that time. 

One of my friends is writing a book on him. Evidently the 
reason he came to this country was that he was in love with a 
young girl that his father wouldn t let him marry. She moved to 
Chicago and he came over. He had had beautiful training and was 
a very great cellist at a young age. Saint-Saens conducted the 
Saint-Saens concerto with him the first time it was ever given 
in Belgium and Holland. He was considered one of the very great 
coming cellists of Europe and he spoiled it , according to his 
family, by coming over here. 

I just adored him. In order to get to my lessons I had to 
take a streetcar first to the Key Route train out to the pier, 
then the ferry boat, then in San Francisco take one of two 
streetcars in order to get to Horace Britt s home. I remember I 
was always so excited as I would ring that doorbell. My heart 
would be thumping. He was very good to me. I had had just this 
high school training. He had any number of students but he was 
very good to me. 

I remember one time coming over and not finding him. I 
didn t think anything of it. My students have had to do that 
with me, I know. He was out horseback riding and he was so 
chagrined that he insisted on giving me two lessons free for 
that. But, I would carry over my five dollars, which I had 
earned, and pay him every lesson. 1 thought everything happened 

At the end of the year, maybe it was two years, he said he 
wasn t going to teach any more. I found out later this was 
because he thought he didn t teach that well. He begged me to go 
to his stand partner in the symphony, Stanislaus Bern. No, I 
wasn t going to change! That was all there was to it! I was, 
as far as I know, the only one he kept on for the next year. 

I enjoyed him. He played very artistically. At that time 
the San Francisco Symphony actually played encores. I ve never 
heard of them doing that before or since then, and I can t tell 
you how many times it happened. Mr. Britt was very much aware 
of it at the time I was taking from him. If the San Francisco 
Symphony got an encore they would bring the harp and Mr. Britt 
out to play "The Swan" as an encore for the San Francisco Symphony. 


Rowell: He told me privately, "I get more nervous and I feel it s harder 
to play The Swan well than to play the whole Saint-Saens 
concerto." Isn t that interesting? 

I can see what he means. Maybe he made me scared of it. I 
used to be scared of it. Now all my students play it when they re 
very young, but he did play it very beautifully, as Saint-Saens 
himself wanted it , exactly . 

Performer s Fears 


Rowell : 

Rowell : 


Rowell : 

Did you have any question about your own ability when you were 
face to face with your first real cello teacher? 

Oh, yes! I never thought I played well. When I was still in 
high school I had to play a solo for an assembly, and it was to 
be a paid assembly where the kids had to pay to go to the 
assembly. I was frightened to death. I thought I played absolutely 
terribly. That was about my first year of cello, at the end. 
The pianist was a senior and graduating. I didn t see her for 
years after that. I said to her once, "I ve never gotten over 
playing that solo when I was so nervous." She said, "You played 
it beautifully." I m sure, to this day, that I didn t. I didn t 
tell any of my family I was going to play it. I did put on a 
pretty good dress to wear to school, I remember. I was absolutely 
scared stiff. 

But I was always frightened when I was going to play. I 
don t mean just nervous; I mean frightened of an audience. 

[break in tape to answer telephone] 

I never felt I was any good, but I loved playing. I didn t like 
appearing in public. The trio always was much easier for me 
than solo playing, because we did it together. But the minute I 
had to play a solo, then I was really nervous. 

But you had to appear in public, 
simply has to appear in public. 

Anybody who is an instrumentalist 

That s right. I realize that so much. I see the difference in 
my students. I see some students who play much better when they 
play in public. Ned Flanders was one of them. They really rise 
up to the occasion. They re better when they re playing for 
somebody than if they re just playing for themselves. 


Rowell: I would always say, "Oh, I wish you could hear me in my own 

kitchen at midnight." I could really play then; I could really 
express myself. I mean on a solo. This would not be true in 
trio music. Usually I could come right out in it and enjoy 
myself very much. 

Riess: Britt would say that it got more difficult to play "The Swan"? 

Rowell: It was not more difficult, it was just that he was always nervous 
and that he felt it was more difficult to play "The Swan" than 
the whole Saint-Saens concerto. That I can see now. That had 
to be phrased so exactly. He was always taking a breath and 
doing a whole thing through in that breath. If you know the 
thing technically, the technical things are not so hard for 
you. It s when you have to put yourself into it that it s hard. 
I think he did it beautifully. 

After two years with Britt I did change over and go to 
Stanislaus Bern. He became my main teacher. He had graduated 
from the Belgian Conservatory, which at that time was considered 
the greatest conservatory in the world. It was the one that 
Pablo Casals had wanted to come to and did not. His teacher 
there had been considered the greatest teacher. 

Mr. Bern played very beautifully. He was the assistant 
principal in the San Francisco Symphony. He was not the principal, 
ever, and he would not have been because I found out later he 
simply did not read music well. Like so many fine artists, he 
memorized and could play beautifully, but he had to know it very, 
very well. When he had to take my place, as he did later on very 
often, in the trio, I would hear the notes that were wrong, and 
such things. They would bother me very much. He did not read 
rapidly, but he played beautifully what he knew a beautiful soloist. 
He must have taught me a great deal. I didn t realize it at the 
time because I didn t do a lot of practicing. I couldn t do too 
much practicing. 

Riess: I was going to ask about that. 

Demanding College and Rehearsal and Performance Schedule 

Rowell: My sister, after that first year in college, made me slow down. 
I was trying to take a double major in college. I was taking a 
great deal of economics. At Christmas vacation in my first year- 


Rowell ; 

Rowell : 

Rowell : 

Rowell ! 

as I said, I d had less than six months of private lessons 
Mr. Britt recommended me for this pay job in San Francisco, 
which was playing for the Maitland Theatre, which was a theatre 
to which all the elite came. They did the Ibsen plays that 
type of play. 

There were two other people, a very fine pianist and 
violinist , both of whom were very well known socially in 
San Francisco. So it was quite the thing to go to the Maitland 
Theatre. We only played the music at the interlude. There we 
did play nothing but the straight classical, like a movement 
from a trio. I remember the Arensky trio. 

With your Arion group? 

No. It was the first time I ever left them, 
night . 

But this was just at 

Was there a lot of difference playing with the two others? 

Oh yes. Very different. Of course, it wasn t as enjoyable, to 
me, because we didn t have enough rehearsal on it to begin with. 
With the trio we rehearsed every day. With this we didn t 
rehearse as much, but we didn t play as much music. You just 
played one number between each thing , and you changed probably 
each week. You only played two or three numbers a week this 
way while the other way you were playing the whole literature, 
which was very different. But I enjoyed it and got very good pay 
for it, for those days. 

I had to take a ferryboat back and get home after midnight , 
and then go on to college. I did it during Christmas vacation. 
I did it for quite a few months. I had to decide the next year 
whether to go with something like that or stop out and do music 
mainly. I wanted to stop out and do music. I think then was 
when my family said, "Oh no. You don t do anything like that." 
So I didn t. And I gave up that theatre thing. I only did it, 
probably, for several months, but I enjoyed it while I did it. 

When you say stop out and do music, you mean leave school? 

Yes. I thought I d like to take a year off from college between 
my freshman and sophomore year and just do music. My sister Marion 
says now that she got hold of me at that time and said , "Now 
look. The thing you ought to do is to take five years to do your 
college course, instead of four, and then you can go on with your 
music." That s what I did. I always got my three hours of 
practicing in before I left home in the morning, and then was free 
for the rest of the day. 


Riess: That s a lot of practicing, isn t it? 

Rowell: I found it very hard to get practicing in. I don t think I ever 
got in enough. I doubt if I even got in all my three hours 
before I left, to tell you the truth. But that was the time I 
laid aside for it. 

Choosing an Instrument , Cello Pedigrees 


Rowell : 




Rowell : 

Were you still using the cello that your father had picked out 
for you? 

Yes. That cello cost thirty-five dollars, for the cello, the bow 
and the case. We bought it from Mr. Aschow, one of the very 
loveliest of men. I can t tell you how much everybody appreciated 
him. I finally, just this last year, bought his cello back from 
his daughter that he played and his father before him. 

It was a fine instrument, the first instrument that you had? 
Oh, no. For thirty-five dollars, a fine instrument? 

I know, 

But you kept on using it all the way through your trio 

People were not that conscious. It wasn t like today, where 
everybody s after an instrument with a name attached to it. Nobody 
cared. I guess I d heard of Strads and Amatis, but I never 
expected to own one. I never even desired to own one. I don t 
now. I don t want to own one. 

You were asking once if I thought I was my father s favorite. 
I was very much drawn to him and he was awfully good to me, as I 
can see through all of this. It was hard to get around in those 
days on streetcars and do everything. I always knew I could call 
on my father for anything. There wasn t anything he wouldn t do 
for me. He was assistant superintendent of the Oakland schools 
and had his office on the eleventh floor of the City Hall. I would 
go up, if I was late, and say, "Dad, I have to get some place." 
He would stop and take me. I would also leave my cello in his 
office if I was going shopping, which I did very often. I always 
was making my own clothes and doing things like that. 

I left my cello in his car one time, came down, and it wasn t 
there. I thought that maybe somebody in his office who was 
always saying I was careless about where I left it had taken it. 


Rowell: I went up and said, "Did somebody take it?" They said nobody 

had taken it there. I couldn t believe it. This was my senior 
year in college. 1 couldn t get over the loss of it. We had 
engagements. I think I must have borrowed another cello from 
Aschow, and people called up wanting to lend me cellos. I couldn t 
find anything that suited me. I tried very expensive cellos. 

I had had my cello insured with Lloyds of London for two 
hundred dollars. I just wanted that thing back. I cancelled 
every solo engagement that I had. I still played trio on a 
borrowed cello. I didn t like any cello I played on. There was 
nothing but this thirty-five dollar cello for me. 

After weeks of it Lloyds finally called and said, "We have 
your check all made out." I said, "I don t want it. I won t 
accept it. I only want the cello. That s all there is to it." 
I finally said, "I want you to look in all the pawn shops 
everyplace." Finally one day they found it in a pawn shop. It 
had been pawned for twelve dollars. So I got it back. I was 
the happiest person in the world. 

I would say that I was offered as much as five hundred dollars 
for it while I was playing on KGO, which was a huge price in 
those days. People would call in and want to know what kind of a 
cello it was, if they could buy it. Of course, it was never for 
sale. I finally gave it away to some poor soul after I was 


I didn t have another cello until Stanislaus Bern s cello. 
His and his wife s folks both were all in Russia in the late 
twenties after the Russian revolution, and they wanted to take a 
trip back to Russia. Everybody was Russia-conscious in those 
days. Lev Shorr and his wife then wanted to go to Russia. This 
was after the revolution. 

The Bems wanted to get there very much. They were Polish. 
They wanted to see what was left of their family. He needed the 
money so badly that I lent him the money. I was always the only 
one with money. It wasn t a huge amount, but I lent my brother 
money at the time each child was born. I gave all my earnings 
practically I don t know how many thousand dollars to "Stash" Bern 
and his wife to go to Russia with. He gave me the cello. 

I didn t expect to see them back. I thought they would stay 
over there, as they thought they would. But they were very 
disillusioned when they got over there, as everybody was. In no 
time practically they were back again. He had no money to pay 
anything back so I always just kept the cello. That s one of my 
best cellos today. 


Rowell ; 

Rowell : 


Where were those two instruments made? 
one is American? 

The thirty-five dollar 

I don t know. The other one is supposed to be a Vuillaume, which 
is an expensive instrument. Now they tell me that it s not one. 
I m not surprised at all. I m not after names. It s evidently 
older than a Vuillaume and Vuillaume put his name into it, but it 
is in no way near as valuable as a real Vuillaume. 

I had one instrument that I fell in love with. I played 
solos with it and thought it was the greatest instrument. I took 
it to Aschow to evaluate. I ve forgotten what value they gave 
it at that time. It was almost nothing, you know, for then 
compared to now. He told me the top price to pay for it. They 
would never come through with it. Just when I was going to play 
a great big solo they told me I had to give it back, which broke 
my heart because that was my cello. I should have paid more 
for it and taken it right then and there, but I wouldn t go above 
the price that Mr. Aschow, who knew everything about instruments, 
quoted me. They let me play on it that night and came and took 
it away the next day. I was broken hearted. That was the only 
instrument that I d ever actually fallen in love with. 

Years later, maybe as much as fifteen years ago now, I ran 
into almost a duplicate of it. That is my treasure now. My 
student Scott Kluksdahl, who is going to Harvard, has it. It s 
a beautiful instrument. It s valued at twenty thousand dollars, 
but it s probably worth even more. 

Why do your students end up with your instruments? 
Because they need them and I don t, pure and simple. 
What makes a good instrument for you? 

I m one that does not go by pedigree. Everybody goes by pedigree. 
I have a student of mine in New York looking for an instrument. 
He can t find anything under $150,000 that will suit him because 
it does have to have a name attached to it. I tried to lend 
him this instrument of mine, which I think is simply gorgeous, 
but he didn t take it. He s looking for a big name. 

The quality of tone is the only thing I look for. I don t 
care what happens otherwise. I don t care how it s made or 
anything else about it except the quality of tone. 

Riess: That sounds like that s all it s about anyway. 


Rowell: Yes, but it s amazing to me what happens in the cello world. 
One of my students paid twenty thousand dollars quite a number 
of years ago. His instrument is fully worth it now but it wasn t 
worth it at all when he paid for it. I wouldn t have given three 
thousand dollars for it, I don t think. But it s worth the 
twenty thousand dollars now. He s had it fixed up. But instruments 
have gone up just out of all proportion to anything else in this 

The ease of playing also does come into it , and the carrying 
tone comes into it. I have another student bringing me instruments 
every week to hear. I think her present instrument is simply 
beautiful but it has a small tone. She s in an orchestra and 
feels that she isn t loud enough. I feel that you can get almost 
any instrument that is well made to carry up to its capacity, but 
some carry much more than others. That carrying power has a great 
deal to do with it. 


Rowell : 

Of course there are some perfectly beautiful instruments. 
Nick Rosen, who got the Naumburg Prize and is the first cellist 
to get the Tchaikovsky Award, in Russia the first American to 
get any prize since Van Cliburn is playing a perfectly beautiful 
cello that he just got. People do get hold of old cellos. This 
is somebody dying and leaving a cello to him. Zara Nelsova has 
a perfectly gorgeous instrument that was left to her a Strad. 
People do get fine instruments. They re very few and far between 
these days. 

But there are many good cellos, and many good cellos that 
are reasonable, if people only would look for them and be willing 
to accept the sound instead of a name. 

Do you think that a person is imprinted with 
as in your case? 

his first cellos, 

No, I don t think so at all. I think that I just had a sound in 
my mind and wanted it. Evidently that cheap instrument because 
that s what it was had a good sound. I ve heard other cheap 
instruments that sounded excellent. 

I started Carol Morrow on the cello. Bonnie Hampton had her 
for a summer and then gave her over to me. I gave her a cello of 
mine. She had that all her life. I don t know whether she had 
another one before she went to Juilliard. I guess she did by that 
time. She had one given to her. But all the time she was 
winning prizes and playing with the San Francisco Symphony it was 
on this instrument that I gave her. I don t know what kind of 
an instrument it was but she got a beautiful quality out of it. 


Riess: Have you played any of the collection of instruments that Ansley 
Salz and Helen Salz gave to the university? 

Rowell: No. I don t know whether they ve ever been given out to play on, 
have they? Do you know? 

Riess: I don t know. I just wondered. 

Rowell: I know that they ve never lent the ones out in Washington B.C. 
until this year. This year the Cleveland Quartet has them. 

Young Don Weilerstein, and Musical Families 

Rowell: The Cleveland Quartet brings me to something else. [searches for 
a recording] I just got this record last week. I get every 
record that he ever plays given to me. Do you know of the 
Cleveland Quartet at all? I just read the New York Times , I believe 
it was, saying that they were without doubt the greatest quartet 
in the world. That could be disputed, I m sure, by quite a number 
of quartets, but many people class them as the leading quartet of 
the world. They ve played behind the Iron Curtain, in Japan, 
everyplace under the sun. They re so busy they re dated up three 
years in advance, all over the world. 

Donny [Weilerstein], their first violinist, grew up across 
the street from us here. He was Galen s playmate when they were 
young. They re just six months apart in age. It s been more fun 
to see Don progress on the violin. I don t know whether he will 
like me to tell all the stories about him when he was young. He 
started very young on the violin. In fact, they ve been here 
since 1950. No, they ve been here longer. Anyway, he and Galen 
went to nursery school together when they were about a year and 
a half old. Don s grandfather, aged ninety-seven, always likes to 
say that the Weilersteins bought that property just so they could 
build a house to be near us here. I m almost beginning to believe 
it. They are the most wonderful neighbors that anybody could 

Even before they moved here, Rose started Don on the violin. 
She would call me over because she didn t know how to put his 
fingers down on the strings. I would sit on the floor that was 
the only way I could teach him and try to place those fingers so 
they d be a whole tone and a whole tone, and then that half tone 


Rowell: We used to take our vacations together. During the war Ed only 
drove his car down to the campus and back, never anything more, 
and I had my car, so we saved up all his gas coupons and we had 
enough gas coupons to go to Yosemite. It was marvelous. The 
three of [Rowells] went. You can imagine the very few people 
there. We got a Curry s tent. [We] were clear away from every 
body, having a wonderful time by the river. 

My father, at the time, was extremely ill. He was in his 
eighties and I was terribly worried about him. When they had a 
runner come to tell me that I was wanted on the telephone, long 
distance, and they were holding it it was about a half a mile 
to the nearest telephone I started running over in fear and 
trembling. I got to the telephone, picked up the receiver, and 
the voice said, "This is Ralph Weilerstein. We re wondering if 
there s room for us if we come up there?" [laughter] I said, 
"Yes, you surely can." So, they drove in. I think Galen was 
about two or three years old. We had a wonderful summer together. 

Don is very relaxed. Always has been very slow speaking, 
very relaxed, and Galen is very fast. Ed never could take the 
long walks, so when we took hikes, Dr. Ralph and Rose Weilerstein 
and myself, we would leave the two boys down with Ed. He would 
have a fit. Don in no time would be either slouching or resting 
and Galen would be going around in circles. They were absolute 
opposites. [Meanwhile] we climbed up the ledge trail, which is 
no longer permitted because it s so steep. We would have a 
wonderful time. 

But to watch Donny grow from someone who, as I remember, 
didn t tune his violin between lessons, into this perfectly 
wonderful violinist, was really something. Wherever we were on 
a vacation they would stick that violin under his chin after he d 
finished eating. He always got a good meal inside of him he 
was a roly-poly and then they d stick his violin under his chin 
to get in his practicing. 

Riess: Did you have some question about whether that was just a little 
bit pushy? 

Rowell: No, not at all because the Weilersteins do everything with so much 
love. The love is what shows through. There s never anything 

Riess: Why did they think that they had a musician? 

Rowell: I don t know. I never could have told you that. My Galen had 

at least as much music in him as Don, but I was not that kind of 
a parent. I often wish I had been, but I m not. I told you about 


Rowell: John Dewey and his readiness. They didn t wait for any readiness. 
It s amazing what they got. I ve changed many of my views on 
education. I still feel that if you give a thing with love, and 
show that it s given with love, that you can do a great deal. 
Each one of the Weilerstein children have grown up with this 
terrific sense of belonging and love and knowing that what they 
did satisfied their families. 

Irene Sharp, with whom I ve worked so much, has three 
daughters. She and her husband have brought them up with that 
combination of love and discipline which is the answer. I had 
the love but not the discipline. Discipline is not my middle 
name. [laughter] Even at this stage I am not one to tell my 
students how much to practice. 

Renie Sharp has carried on a full cello schedule, fuller 
than mine. She has many more students than I do. She teaches 
at the San Francisco Conservatory and she teaches a huge group 
of cellists in Palo Alto. But she has found time to spend with 
each one of her children, musically, and develop them to the nth 

Take her oldest daughter, Wendy Sharp, for example, whom I ve 
watched grow. She was a good little violinist but not showing 
exceptional talent. (Robin, the youngest one, showed exceptional 
talent from the time she was a youngster on. I can see her 
starting out with the little Suzuki tunes at about four years 
old. Paul Rolland, one of the finest violin teachers in the country, 
came to visit. I ve forgotten what she played for him, but she 
wowed him over at about six years of age.) 

But Wendy Sharp has just graduated from Yale Univer ty magna 
cum laude the whole thing. She was the outstanding student. 
They went back for the graduation. The night before she gave a 
whole concert representing the whole class Bach, Beethoven and 
Brahms violin sonatas and did a magnificent job. Later in the 
summer they went down to Tanglewood for the final concert. The 
year before she d gotten the prize for the outstanding violinist, 
which they thought was astounding for Tanglewood. They listened 
to all the things this year, not expecting anything because she d 
gotten that, and here at the very end they gave her the outstanding 
student of all of Tanglewood, at the end of this last summer. 

With that she has taken all her other subjects. I know she 
took geology and computing. Everything under the sun. A regular 
good, solid, hard course at Yale beside her music, and played in 
the best string quartet there. She graduated in her four years, 
and did everything right straight through. What I m saying is 
that her mother knows how to teach with love and discipline. The 
middle child plays the French horn and is doing beautifully. The 
youngest, Robin, a violinist, is just a knock-out on both violin 
and piano. 


[Interview 3: September 27, 1982 ]## 

Edward A. Steiner, and Influence 

Rowell: When I was going through high school I always felt that I was not 
popular. Maybe I oughtn t to use the word unpopular, but not 
popular in any way. I didn t dance and I didn t have a social 
life as so many of the girls had around me, particularly our 
pianist, Joyce Barthelson. She was very popular with the boys and 
always going to dances and having a different boy friend. I had 
cases on people, but they were always much older than myself. They 
were usually ones from my Christian Endeavor at church and that 
would be the Senior Christian Endeavor, while I was only an 
Intermediate but I really did not go out with boys at all during 
high school. 

It was at that time that my father was in charge of all the 
evening schools of Oakland. I don t know why he took me around 
with him, but I guess it was because I d been reading the books 
on immigration when I was in grammar school, books by Edward A. 
Steiner. You probably have not heard of him. He wrote The Ebb 
and Flow of the Immigrant Tide and about five books on immigration. 
I read them my last year in grammar school in Oakland, going to 
the library and getting out one after another. 

I cannot tell you the delight when my father said that 
Edward A. Steiner was coming to speak. I actually shook his hand. 
I realize now the excitement and privilege of actually shaking 
the hand of somebody you ve admired and only through print. It 
really is something for all of us. It s that human touch that 
adds something to it. Grinnell College has its Edward A. Steiner 
building now. Bonnie Hampton, when she went back, the first thing 
she did was to send me a picture of Edward A. Steiner s building. 
She knows of my great admiration for such a man. 


Rowell: My father realized my devotion to this, I guess, so he took me 
quite a number of the evenings around with him to the night 
schools. At that time they were given over almost entirely to 
Americanization. This was where there were all the foreigners of 
all sorts learning the English language. I m not sure whether 
it happened while I was there with him, but I have a memory so 
clearly of a native who had come from a little island in the 
South Seas, ten miles long and about two miles wide, a few 
hundred miles from New Zealand. 

When he left his country and came over, the people who had 
never departed from the island said, "When you go out into the 
world be sure to meet our brother." He went to New Zealand and 
took the the boat from New Zealand to New York, where he was 
absolutely, completely at odds with the whole world. He had never 
seen tall buildings, undergrounds; he had never ridden on anything 
fast. It was all just one great big whirl of a mess. 

He finally got to San Francisco and then to Oakland, and 
was going to night school in the basement of an Oakland school. 
My father was there and spoke to him, and this man asked, "Have 
you ever heard of So-and-So?" (I wish I could remember the name 
of that wonderful family. They d been missionaries out there.) 
My father said, "I know just where they live. They are very dear 
friends of ours." So, the meeting with the brother of the old 
friend that he had met on that one little island, ten miles 
long and two miles square, happened in the basement of an Oakland 
school. We thought that was quite amazing. 

At that school, I would see all nationalities preparing for 
their Americanization. I think it affected my whole life. I did 
prepare basically to go into what we called social service at 
that time. That s the reason that when I got to college my first 
year I didn t even look at music. 

Riess: But you were performing? 

Rowell: Oh, I was performing all the time. 

Edward G. Stricklen, and the Music Department 

Rowell: What happened was I went in to see the professor of music. He 
was sitting at a desk, smoking a great big cigar, with his feet 
up on the desk. Almost lazy, I would say. I didn t even speak to 
him. I didn t have any feeling at all that I would enjoy working 


Rowell: with him; I d enjoyed Mr. Trutner so much in high school that I 
couldn t see it. I simply did not take any music course 
whatsoever my whole first year at the university. 1 played in 
the orchestra, yes, but I didn t do anything else except the 

At the end of the year, Professor Stricklen went down to 
Tech High, where I graduated, and said, "What s happened to 
Margaret Avery?" Mr. Trutner didn t know that I hadn t registered 
for any music, either. He was amazed. He called me right up and 
told me I had to go. I went back to this professor and they 
arranged for me to step right into every course on the sophomore 

I didn t know that that professor had come down and attended 
my graduation from high school, when I had to play a cello solo 
with orchestra that I had orchestrated myself . I think he thought 
I had composed the piece. I hadn t, but I arranged it for cello 
solo and orchestra. And then, the trio had played for graduation, 
and my father had given a speech. (I wanted to go and hide after 
graduation because I didn t like the limelight. I never did. 
That was just a little bit too much.) But, I had no idea that 
this professor had attended that graduation. 

Riess: When you turned up in his office, he didn t put your name together 
with the person? 


Rowell: I don t know whether I even spoke to him when I went into that 
office. I think I took one look and walked out. 

Riess: This was Stricklen? 

Rowell: Yes. 

Riess: Charles Seeger was no longer there? 

Rowell: No. Seeger was wonderful, and Seeger was no longer there teaching. 
Stricklen was the one. 

He put me right into sophomore level work the second year, 
in harmony and everything. It didn t bother me at all. I went 
right straight ahead and finished the four years. But my major 
was also economics, as it had been that first year. Along with 
that I was involved in several other things that I think I should 
put in. 


Tri-Delt Sorority Trauma 

Rowell: My sister had been a Tri-Delt, which meant Delta Delta Delta 
sorority. While I was still in high school, I said I had no 
boy friends, but I had a boy who was very interested in me all 
the time, always writing me notes. I remember the teacher calling 
us both down when he d be passing notes from clear in the back 
to the front and all around, always telling me how much he was 
going to see me and so on, especially when we got to college. 

He was being rushed by Pi Kappa Alpha, which was the one 
fraternity that I thought was wonderful. Men from there came 
down and worked at our church all during the week, doing athletics 
and so on. I thought they were just wonderful. He was rushed by 
Pi Kappa Alpha and he would say, "Oh, you re going to be a 

Well, I came out, and here I didn t realize it at the time, 
but my sister was one, and I guess they rushed me, but I wasn t 
interested particularly, I didn t have that type of a mind. And 
yet, I knew I would have to be in one. I remember going up to a 
lunch and having the girls try to dance with me. 1 never had been 
to a dance in my life! I didn t dance well at all. I thought, 
"Gee, I wonder if I have to do this all through four years." 
And they just didn t take me. 

This was the biggest blow to me of anything. I thought, 
"I m no good at all," and I thought I had ruined my family s 
reputation. Nobody ever spoke to me about it; I just took it 
inside me and kept it there so completely! I thought I had 
disgraced my family. I remember serving tea to a group of very 
elite, beautiful women whom I adored the superintendent s wife 
(he later became president of the University of Denver) 
and all these people. They each said, "Oh, now you re a Tri-Delt." 
I had to practically run from the room with tears because I 
couldn t stand it. 

I suffered more through that time! People afterwards would 
even ask me a question and I would burst into tears. I carried 
that around with me. When I saw this very boy that had been so 
interested in me in high school, I would just duck my head. I 
wouldn t speak to him, if you can imagine such a thing. I found 
out years later from somebody else that he finally walked up 
their steps, rang their doorbell and said, "What do you think 
you re doing!" [laughter] Isn t that funny? I ve really carried 
it with me through the years without ever realizing. 


Rowell: I think it s one of the best things that ever happened to me 
because I would never have been happy at that time of my life 
in that sorority type of a surrounding. As I ve already told you, 
the three of us in trio were always discussing other things. We 
didn t discuss frivolous topics. We were geared otherwise. We 
were interested in the working man and working conditions. My 
family was not at all interested in labor unions, but I was 
terribly interested in everything connected with them. (Eventually 
we had had to join the musicians union, which we didn t want 
to particularly, but we had to.) All our outlooks were very 

I remember the three of us riding on a streetcar together 
in San Francisco, this elderly man sitting in the fourth seat. 
He finally interrupted us and said, "You know, I m not used to 
conversation like that." We were, all three of us, talking about 
if we died what we wanted done with our bodies. [laughter] 
Whether we wanted them buried or what we wanted. Even at that 
time I said , "I want my ashes sprinkled in the ocean or the 
mountains," at that young age while everybody else was thinking 
of other things. This man was so surprised at three young girls 
discussing things like that on the streetcar. 

Riess: Did Marion know that you were not going to be accepted? 

Rowell: I never in my life discussed it with her in any way. I don t 

think she knew it at first at all, but of course she did know it 
finally. I think it disappointed her a very great deal, that 
they did that. 

If anybody voted against you, you were not accepted, and 
I later found out the two girls who had voted against me. I 
liked them very much. I just knew I wasn t popular enough. 
That was all. But both of them later asked me to play for their 
weddings, and I did. I thought that was really quite something. 
I was playing in Santa Cruz for the summer. One of them came to 
the hotel for her honeymoon and came up and spoke to me and did 
so much. I really felt that she might have felt what she d done. 

Riess: I didn t realize that there was such a social small world at 
the university. 

Rowell: There was at that time. I can laugh over it now. I cannot be 
thankful enough for that thing having happened to me. 

Riess: Oh, you would have been an individual anyway, don t you think? 


Rowell: No, I wouldn t have. I doubt that I would have gone on with the 
slant that I did, because that turned me even more toward my 
major in social economics. That turned me completely to it. I 
went back to those roots that were already in me. My course in 
immigration at the university was one of my thrilling courses. 
We had the same books to read that I d read in grammar school. 
It meant everything to me. 

Guidance from August Vollmer 

Rowell: My course in criminology changed my whole life. I even worked 
for the Oakland Police Department. Professor [August] Vollmer 
gave part of the course in criminology, not the whole thing. I 
came to admire him. I went to him several times just for advice 
when I needed it. 

Riess: Advice in the work that you were doing? 

Rowell: No. In my own problems. I had problems. I could tell what 

one of them was, I suppose, since it s here. I very much admired 
a young man, and he was evidently madly in love with me. He 
was very crippled, which I appreciated very much. I was very 
attached to him. (This comes in much later, though, and you ll 
find out where it fits in. But I will bring it in here.) I enjoyed 
his whole mental capacity and so on, but my real feelings had been 
for somebody else entirely. It happened to be somebody whom he 
admired more than anybody else. He didn t know at all that I was 
in love with this other fellow, and he would keep saying that 
this fellow that I was in love with was one of the three finest 
minds in the world and understood so much. 

It was very hard on me to have him so interested in me, 
you see. He began saying that he d commit suicide if I didn t 
show him attention and marry him. I went to his mother with this. 
She said, "You can t do it; you can t possibly do it." If I d 
felt everything toward him that I felt toward the other person, 
I would have done it. I admired him and respected him, and loved 
him in his own way. 

I went to Vollmer then several times to ask him what he 
thought. Vollmer finally said, "Well, I think maybe he will 
commit suicide." That just worried the daylights out of me, as 
you can imagine. But Vollmer gave me all sorts of advice, which 
was wonderful. I didn t know then that he would later commit 
suicide himself, which he did. Isn t that interesting? 


Riess: Very interesting. These men were at the university, the ones 
that you were attracted to? 

Rowell: No. Neither one of them ever attended a university. This was 
later. I found, at that time in my life, something very 
interesting. Now I m jumping way ahead, but I did find out that 
the men who went to a university at that particular time, and had 
a good time and that was the time when there was all that 
rushing, whether you belonged to anything or not, dumping you 
in this and ducking you in that, and the relishing of all the 
fancy things that went on with going to a university when they 
got through, they thought they had a university education and 
they never opened a book again. 

This I found over and over. I found it with our announcers 
on NBC. I knew several of them very well. For them, all their 
education had happened in college. They would go back to those 
college days, sing the praises of those college days, while my 
friends who didn t go to college knew they didn t have a college 
education and made up for it by reading the heaviest of books , 
all the books they could ever feed themselves. They were the 
most fascinating people I ever knew in my life. I ve never known 
brains like that in my life, never known people who could keep 
you fascinated day and night until you re full of ideas. I think 
I got more of my education from those people who didn t go to 

Riess: Vollmer, you sought out as a counsellor rather than, for instance, 
the pastor of your church, in this personal matter. Why Vollmer? 

Rowell: I guess because I had enjoyed him so much. Of course, one of my 
very dearest friends, Leonarde Keeler, had worked under him and 
with him for years. Leonarde Keeler had invented the Polygraph Lie 
Detector, as it was then called, under his supervision. 

I found out that about nine-tenths of the girls in my class 
were going to a professor in criminology whose name I can t say 
right this moment. Later he was let out of UC and went to 
Pomona College where he taught for many years. He would have 
been one that I could easily have turned to , but he had left the 
university by the time I was out. I had no trouble with anybody 
while I was in the university. It was after I left the 
university that I needed help and advice. 

Riess: That s interesting, that that discipline, criminology, would have 
such particularly sensitive people with whom you would feel that 
kind of rapport. 


Rowell: Yes. That s true. I see what you mean. I never thought of 
that til this moment. Those people were extremely sensitive 
people, while policemen you don t usually think of in that term. 
Vollmer s whole idea of a police department was totally different 
from any other. The Berkeley Police Department was noted at 
that time all over the world. 

Riess: Would you have sought the help of a psychiatrist if that had 
been appropriate? 

Rowell: No, never. It never would have occurred to me. 

Prayer Group 

Riess: I am surprised that you see yourself as one who would have been 
changed by being a Tri-Delt. 

Rowell: Yes. I don t know what would have happened to me. As you say, 
I doubt that I could have been just a good sorority sister, 
because I had already in high school did I tell you that I 
belonged to a prayer group in high school? 

Riess: Well, you talked about the Christian Endeavor. 

Rowell: Christian Endeavor was different. Christian Endeavor was a 

Christian meeting that took place at church. When there was a 
state Christian Endeavor thing of some kind I went, and I 
evidently got up and said something. Our Latin teacher from 
school , the very one who had given us our name for our Arion 
Trio, came over to me afterwards and said, "You know, I have a 
prayer group at high school. I would love to have you join us." 
I said yes, I would. 

It was after school and met in a place near the school. 
There were only six of us. We had to kneel down and it was a 
regular prayer session with this lovely teacher. And whereas I 
felt that I was very religious, I could not make any words come 
out in me whatsoever. I would go week after week and when it 
would come my time my throat was absolutely tied up. Nothing 
would come out. I don t know how long it was before I could even 
say a word. But I kept going. I knew sometime I might be able 
to. I finally did. I don t know how and I don t remember much 
about it except that at that time we all sort of committed ourselves 
to being missionaries in Africa. 

Riess: You mean the prayer group? 


Rowell: Yes. It was a very nice, close group to be with but it never 

meant as much to me as my actual Christian Endeavor where I knew 
everybody even better. 

Riess: The prayers, then, it sounds like, were prayers for the betterment 
of the world or something like that? 

Rowell: No. They were for anything and everything. 
Riess: I don t think I know what a prayer group is. 

Rowell: My sakes, I couldn t tell you. It was just getting down on your 
knees and praying, that was all. But I wasn t used to doing the 
public part. At home on Sundays, after breakfast, we all had to 
kneel. My father always prayed for us, for a long time. That 
I could take, very easily, and I loved it. You almost feel as 
if it s inside of you and you re saying it yourself and you can 
absorb it beautifully. But to say it out, no! 

I found out that even to this day my religion is not anything 
that I can talk about easily. It s just not. It s way inside me. 
My nephew [Arthur Hakel] had asked me to write something on my 
religion.* So I ve been trying to write something. I find that 
I have never been one to be able to get up and speak religiously. 
It s so deep within me that I cannot express it in words. I 
think I don t want to express it in words. 

I really wonder if maybe my cello didn t come along and do 
something for me in that respect. I begin to realize that whereas 
I was never aware of learning technique as such, the thing that 
I always had was a feeling that every piece I ever played really 
meant something very deep to me. I always felt it completely. 

I loved to play solos for all the different churches. I had 
never been outside of my own church at all. I thought that my 
church was wonderful. But when I first began going to other 
churches I found that same religious spirit every place I went. 
I appreciated it. I went to Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, 
everything , and very early to the Jewish synagogue where I played 
the Kol Nidre. I played for at least twenty-two years every 
single Yom Kippur the Kol Nidre for the Oakland synagogue. I played 

*Art Hakel is the author of "Margaret! Margaret! The Exclamatory 
World of Margaret Avery Rowell," Pleasant Hill, California, 1982. 
Deposited in The Bancroft Library, University of California, 


Rowell: for the opening of the Vedanta here, in Berkeley. 1 played even 
for the Catholics when they were not supposed to have string 
music. I played for the Mormons. I ve played for almost every 
denomination that I can possibly think of. 

I find each one such a beautiful service in itself, and so 
meaningful to the people that are there. I appreciate it. I 
cannot confine myself to one of those. I see what s at the heart 
of it and I can t take each person s little bit as being the 
whole at all. I think it s something so much greater than any 
of us have. I think, maybe, music comes closer for me feeling 
what could be called religion than words. 

Meaningful Communication Through Music//// 

Riess : When you performed in hotels , did you feel that you were really 
bringing something to them? 

Rowell: Yes! That s an interesting thing. 1 told you about going to 

Santa Cruz in the summers, didn t I? Well, I had had the least 
lessons, as you know, of any of the three of us. The others had 
many more years of real lessons behind them than I had. Yet I 
can remember playing at the Santa Cruz Casa del Rey, which was 
quite the great big, lush hotel of the time. Do you know who Paul 
Whiteman was? 

Riess: Yes. 

Rowell : Well , I remember that he walked into the hotel lobby and sat down 
in a chair, then got up, came over to me and said, "I want to 
hear you play a solo." I had to play one for him and then another. 
It was evidently a quality of tone and a quality of the phrase 
that he particularly enjoyed. I didn t know that. I had that 
happen several times. While I didn t realize it, I think from 
the very beginning I always felt that every note had to go some 
place, every note had to say something. It was that meaning of 
the phrase doing something, for me, that probably was the thing 
that carried me on in music and made me want to play. 

I never played a composition that didn t have meaning for me. 
For a long time I stayed away from what I would call virtuoso 
pieces. If I didn t have that sense that I was playing something 
besides a whole lot of notes, I didn t want to play it. 


Riess: In so far as music could bring something to the world, in the way 
that being a missionary could bring something to the world, do 
you think that you ever thought about what your music was doing? 

Rowell: No, I don t think I did. I think I just did it, just as a flower 
blooms. I remember so well playing for a church service one 
particular time when I was playing a long , very slow solo , but 
one that I liked very much I would always be making up words to 
it. After the service I think at least fifteen people crowded 
around me afterwards. Instead of saying, "You played well," each 
one said to me, "I can t tell you what you did for me this morning. 
I was thinking of thus and so." None of them were thinking 
anything of what I was thinking. But they didn t say, "You 
played beautifully." They said, "You made me think of thus and 
so." One would be a tragedy, one would be another thing. But 
each one told me that. 

I remember that to this day because I was amazed. I was 
thinking of something so definite in words, yet my words didn t go 
across to them, but what was in the music did go across to them 
and they were thinking what they had to think. It made me believe 
in the universality of music more than most things. 

I think we ve lost a great deal of that in our modern music. 
I think we ve gone out for the notes where the notes are going 
rather than what s underneath them. I hope that we ll sometime 
pull back to the other. I m all for modern music. When I turn on 
some of it and hear how far they ve gone in their richness of 
chords clear outside the scale and everything else, I m not 
shocked, I m amazed and almost happy. But I do feel that the 
depth of so much music has gone out of it until it is the notes, 
where they re going, rather than what the musical phrase is doing. 

Riess: Maybe the performance suffers because they can t quite get into 
it now. 

Rowell: Oh, I think they could get into it. I m not as much an opera fan 
as I am a symphony fan, of course, but when I listen to opera I 
am amazed that they are getting what they re saying across whether 
you understand their words or not. 

When I listen to a symphony, I m just amazed at what is gotten 
across with definite meaning. By that I mean it s a different 
meaning to each person listening because they have to be ready 
to receive it. They ve got the receiving apparatus and they can 
turn it into what they want it meaning. 

Riess: When you talk about Santa Cruz or performing in the church, you re 
talking about a very charged performance on your part. 


Rowell : 


Rowell : 

Rowell : 


Rowell : 

It s charged on my part , but it goes out to them and they receive 
it on their own wave length. 

I wonder if all the members of the orchestra perform with the 
same charge? 

That s very interesting. I went through a fascinating era when 
the whole subject of conductors came up much more than it does 
today. Many orchestras both in Europe and this country started 
to try a conductorless orchestra, having the concert master do 
some of the conducting while playing, but basically conductorless. 
They thought it would be wonderful, and it wasn t. 

This is where the conductor comes in. This is where you can 
even say Calvin Simmons right at this moment comes in, because he 
was a charged conductor. Almost everybody in the orchestra adored 

My favorite conductor would have been Bruno Walter. I felt 
that Bruno Walter had in him a soul of music and he somehow brought 
it out absolutely wonderfully. I can remember hearing the 
San Francisco Symphony twice in one week. I don t know who the 
first time was, but when Bruno Walter had that orchestra, I never 
heard anything like it. That cello section was two totally 
different cello sections. It didn t sound like the same orchestra. 
He did something to that orchestra that brought it together as 
one gorgeous whole. Every phrase almost hurt you. It was so 

[pause in tape while Rowell finds a photo postcard] 

There he is with Thomas Mann and Toscanini. Isn t that gorgeous! 

Oh, it is! They re all absolutely heroic. 
Mann and Toscanini. 

Bruno Walter , Thomas 

Now those are three great men, totally different men. I can t 
compare Toscanini with Bruno Walter. Most people just adore 
Toscanini. I didn t. He was too much of a task master for me, 
and too much of a beat man. He brought in the beat; the beat in 
orchestra was everything. Ever since Toscanini you don t vary the 
beat during a whole movement, practically. Bruno Walter, 
unbeknownst to anybody, kept the basic beat, but within that there 
was the greatest of variety. It would be like a dancer with a 
Viennese Waltz slowing down one measure the least bit in order to 
emphasize the next measure. 

Did you ever meet him or talk to him? 
No. I didn t have to. 


Riess: I just wondered . 

Rowell: I know. [laughter] I have the funniest feeling about meeting 
great people. I m not afraid of them, but I don t have to. I 
told you the handshake meant so much. I guess it does. I guess 
I would have been thrilled to have met him. I d better change 
that. [laughter] 

Social Studies 

Riess: Let me just ask you some questions. 

The studies in economics. You went through those four years. 
I wondered if you remembered the important teachers? 

Rowell: I would say that my most important courses were the ones in 

immigration, criminology and the control of poverty. Those three 
courses I remember, from three different professors, as being the 
greatest ones. They stayed with me years and years afterwards. 
Lucy Stebbins and Jessica Peixotto were the two great women 

Riess: Was your family pushing you in the direction of a career in social 

Rowell: Not in the least. My family never pushed me into anything in 

their lives. They evidently just didn t feel it. That was that 
John Dewey sense. I think they were very glad to see me go ahead 
in the music. 

I think I told you that I thought I was stopping out for one 
year. I expected to graduate. I was very exhausted and tired 
when I finally graduated from college. I had taken five years 
to it , but I had played so constantly , I had used up so much 
energy in trying to do the two, plus teaching quite a bit, that 
I was ready to take a year off before going back for my social 
studies. Then I expected to take a degree in them. 

That year I had thought that I would go to Ellis Island and 
just take a job sweeping floors or doing anything, just so that 
I could be around and see what people were really doing. I didn t 
want an official job; I wanted to get underneath it all. I wanted 
to go to San Quentin, where the women still were, and see what it 
was like. That was in 1923. People have done that since then. 

Riess: Nobody was doing that then. 


Rowell: No. I d never heard of anybody doing it. I thought it would be 
just wonderful to go in as an inmate and really see what it was 
like, and then go back and get my degree. 

I m very glad things turned out as they did, though. 

Riess: You must have been conscious that you had to make a decision 
sooner or later. 

Rowell: Well, no. Life doesn t go that way. I didn t make a decision 

at all. What happened was purely that radio was just coming in. 
Of course, it was not a means of earning a living; it was a toy 
that people used. You went down and they put you on the air. 
Anybody would run to get on the air. 

Antonia Brico 

Riess: I d be interested in hearing more about the music department at 
the university when you were there. It seemed small Stricklen, 
Virginia Graham, Paul Steindorff, and Leroy Allen. 

Rowell: Paul Steindorff I knew very well. 

Antonia Brico, did I mention her going all the way through 
high school with me? 

Riess: No. 

Rowell: Then I should. Antonia Brico s name in high school was Wilhelmina 
Wolthuis. She was a big, strapping Dutch girl who had been 
adopted by a family in Oakland and brought up. We never once 
thought of her going on to college. She just wasn t the type of 
person that you expected to her great, big, old high shoes, 
clothes and so on. But the first year in college, there she was 
on the campus playing in the orchestra. I think it was a little 
bit of violin and a little bit of piano. 

She was interested in conducting even in those days. Paul 
Steindorff, who was the great conductor around here he conducted 
the UC symphony, operas and so on took a liking to her. He had 
a whole family of his own, but she came and lived with Paul 
Steindorff s family the whole four years and went through college, 
and got her degree along with myself. 


Rowell: Because I took my five years, she graduated with me, and I believe 
I had just as many A s as she did, but she got this wonderful 
prize. I was also a major in economics I belonged to both the 
Music Honor Society and the Economics Honor Society but because 
the economics department sort of thought I was a music major and 
the music department thought I was an economics major, they gave 
the prize to Antonia. It was fine with me. I never, even then, 
wanted prizes as prizes. But I was just a little surprised when 
she got it and I didn t, because I had managed the Partheneia, 
which was quite something to manage had to get the person to 
compose the music, got Paul Steindorff to come and conduct it, 
which he hadn t done before. 

Antonia, then, I have followed right straight through. We 
have kept up through the years. She conducted in New York, she 
conducted the San Francisco Symphony in the Greek Theatre and 
around, and she s had the very interesting movie that showed all 
over the United States to people just waiting to get in called 
"Antonia Brico." 

Riess: When did she change her name? 

Rowell: She changed her name after college. She was determined, since she 
was adopted by this family, to find out more about her family in 
Europe. She went over to Europe with the sole purpose of finding 
her family. She spent months doing it, as I remember. She went 
back to Holland where her family, Wolthuis, came from. Then she 
went from there and finally traced it down to this Italian name 
of Brico and found something of her family over there. Exactly 
how much, I cannot tell you right now. But she left being 
Wilhelmina Wolthuis and came back as Antonia Brico. 

She came out and was a part of our KGO Little Symphony. 

Riess: That s two illustrious members of that music class. Was there 

anyone else that went on to be a performer? Or were they mostly 

Rowell: I think they were mainly teachers. I remember Pearl White Hays 
as being very outstanding. She, I think, later became in charge 
of most of the music for the Berkeley schools. She married and 
had three beautiful children, one of whom I taught. 


The Development of Cello Study, and Pablo Casals 

Riess: I noticed that the Extension Division in the 1920s offered music 
instruction. Somebody named Weiss, somebody named Rosenthal? 
Were they people that you went and took classes from when you 
were in college? 

Rowell: Oh, I didn t know anything about them. Never heard of them. 
Riess: You didn t take cello lessons when you were in college? 

Rowell: Oh yes! I took lessons privately, in San Francisco. There were 
no teachers here of that stature. 

Riess: They were Britt and Bern? 

Rowell: Yes, through my whole college and afterwards. 

Riess : What was your awareness then of Casals and the great European 

Rowell: Casals was always my hero. My first program when I heard Casals* 
was in the very early 20s. But I d heard of Casals all my life. 
Stanislaus Bern knew him personally. Mr. Bern had gotten the first 
prize, which he didn t expect to get, from the Belgian Conservatory 
of Music, which was the outstanding place for cello in those days. 
He said that the person trying against him was royalty, and he 
played a very good cello, so he expected him to get the first 
place, but Casals was the judge and gave it to Stanislaus Bern. They 
remained very good friends all their lives. 

Casals was the name, to me, of the greatest thing in cello 
playing. There were no records, at that time, of cello players. 
There were plenty of violinists. As early as there was a 

*I always had such complete adoration for Casals, whom I heard in 
person when I was about fourteen. I still have the program. I 
sat in the very last row of the balcony and was spellbound. I 
was always very shy. But I had the loudest handclap anybody 
ever had. And of course I clapped and clapped and clapped. Then, 
as now, I saved my claps for when everybody else gave out. And 
I well remember clapping after the others had finished, for the 
last encore, not giving up until the others finally joined me, and 
yes, he came back for an encore. I never before or since have 
been totally responsible for an encore! [recorded October 24, 1983] 


Rowell: gramophone my father got one. He had Mischa Elman. 

Later on, all the violinists my father would get. But cellists? 
I do not remember a single cello record. I was saying this to 
Renie Sharp yesterday. 

The first cello record of any concerto I heard was long after 
I was studying concertos. It was [Caspar] Cassado, of all things 
turning the Schubert sonata into a concerto, a terrible thing to 
do. Of all the pieces I studied, there were none of them recorded 
at that time. Casals s recording of his unaccompanied Bach, which 
was one of the most wonderful things, was after I was married even. 
So, those things came much later. 

Riess: When you were taking from Bern and people who had worked with Casals 
or knew enough about him, were there discussions of technique? 
From what I ve read, there was very definitely an old-fashioned 
way and then there was Casals s. 

Rowell: Yes. Cello lagged way behind the violin. Violin came into 

existence, I say, at the time that all of these instruments came 
from the viol family from the soprano , alto , tenor and bass viol 
from the time those turned into being the violin, which was 
much more brilliant than the lovely soft viols, the viola and 
the cello. Of course, we do have our bass viol, still. 

When these instruments came in they were really not respected 
at first. The viols still had the edge over them and were more 
played. But the violin very soon captured the imagination, while 
the cello remained a step-child of the violin. It was big and 
bulky, hard to play and carry around. They expected you to play 
out of tune on it, while you were not allowed to play out of tune 
on the violin. 

This was all due, basically, to the very careful training of 
the old violinists and the schools of violin. But, as with the 
churches and other things, the schools of violin hardly spoke to 
each other. They came from one player down to the next, inherited. 
The cello was left to itself. Either the people were very good 
on it, such as Boccherini, and all of those old-timers really 
virtuosos or else they hardly played at all and played in a 
bumbling manner , almost, and played along for as much accompanying 
as you could have. If you had a string quartet, you expected the 
cellist to play a little bit out of tune. 

Riess: So no wonder there were no recordings of it. 

Rowell: But even then it was more that the instrument was considered so 
big and cumbersome. What has really happened is that the cellos 
has been coming out like the underdog, very aggressively, saying, 
"Here we are," and demanding its own right. First the players on 


Rowell: cello had to learn their own way. We are still doing it. We 

have not got our long schools of cello playing. They have some of 
them but they don t exist going back the hundreds of years right 
through your teachers, as the violin does. I can t say I come 
from such and such a school. 

For this reason, cello is exciting. It s finding its own 
way now. It s found it until it does have a very secure sense 
of technique and being able to teach it in any country anywhere, 
just as the violin is now with Mr. Suzuki. It s much more 
international. We used to have to run to Europe if you were 
going to have any name on the violin, but now not so. 

The "Great Natural Players"//// 

Rowell: I ve seen the cello technique developed from its very infancy, 
where there were these great natural players. If you are so 
natural, you don t necessarily know how to teach. And the other 
thing, the building up of a very slow, sure, hard technique that 
had to be mastered by five and six hours a day, at least, of 
solid practicing of nothing but that difficult stuff, I ve seen 
that gradually get into something today where we know what our 
basic principles are and we can begin to teach those basic 
principles from the beginning through music itself as well as 

Riess: "The great natural players?" 

Rowell: I d take four what I would call natural players. The first one, 

of course, would be Casals. I always say, "Who were his teachers?" 
I can say that to fifty or a hundred people and they begin 
stumbling all over. Maybe some one person in the audience might 
know, but very seldom. It was a Mr. Garcia, who taught him at 
the very beginning for a very short space of time. Somebody came 
up after Casals had been taking a little while and said, "Well, 
how is little Pablo getting along?" Mr. Garcia said, "He plays 
better than I do already." That is the type of thing that we 
call a natural. 

The next one would be Mr. Gregor Piatagorsky. He had many 
teachers, but he will say he didn t get anything from any of them. 
When he came to play for the San Francisco Symphony at age 
nineteen and he played the Dvorak simply beautifully he walked 
into the rehearsal, threw his arms around the assistant principal, 
Wilhelm Dene, and said, "Oh, my teacher!" I said to him afterwards, 
"I didn t know that you taught Piatagorsky." He said, "I didn t. 
He knew it all already." 


Rowell: The third one I love to take is one not so well known. We know 
him from all his method books for the cello. This was Alvin 
Schroeder, who produced so many of our books Two Hundred Cello 
Etudes and so on. He will tell you, and my encyclopedia over 
there will say, that he never had a lesson in his life on the 
cello. He played the viola in the Berlin Symphony, decided he 
wanted to learn the cello, and never told a soul. He picked it 
up entirely in private, practiced on it, tried out for the New Berlin 
Philharmonic and made it on the cello. He soon became their 
principal cellist. In 1881 he was called to the prestigious 
Boston Symphony in this country. There was no New York Philharmonic 
at that time. He remained with the Boston Symphony until 1907. 
He was with the Kneisel Quartet from 1891 til 1907, which was 
the great quartet of all time. He taught at the New England 
Conservatory and he has published many works. He did all of this 
without a single cello lesson. 

What I tried to do in my way of teaching [was] to go back, 
see what those players had instinctively, and cultivate those 
things in my students. It would be like taking a wildf lower and 
cultivating it, if you can see what I mean. They didn t have 
lots of method books to work from. They worked from something 
inside themselves that was terribly important in order to get 
the technique they needed. It is from those people, studying their 
needs, that I think I got my basic principles. 

Riess: But how could you study them? Piatagorsky and Casals didn t do 
that much verbalizing of it, did they? 

Rowell: Oh, no, you just have to I can bring out my basic principles 

for you. There re only about six of them. 

Riess: But was it by observing? 

Rowell: No. I didn t observe them. I never saw Alvin Schroeder play, 
most certainly. [pause in tape] 

Schroeder compiled etudes from everybody; they weren t all 
his original ones. He had a whole method of teaching. Casals 
never had a method of teaching. 

I think that what happens is that you begin to find that 
instead of teaching people how to play with their hands and 
through their fingers, you begin the other way, too, and see what 
it is they have inside of them that makes them come out and be 
a musician. I think that s where I began getting that terrific 
difference. Instead of beginning with the hands and going back 
into the body, I begin with the body and mind and come out through 
the hands. 


Riess: We have to really get into that. 

Rowell: I would love to get into that because this is my whole feeling of 
life. You begin at the inside and you go out. [break in tape] 



The Terrible Hiatus, Tuberculosis 

Rowell: There s a big episode in my life which I simply have to bring in 
here because I can t go on with my teaching until I do. It has 
such a big part to do with it. 

After I got out of college, after I thought I was going to be 
out a year and then go back for something else, KGO opened and 
gave us a contract. Then I really played a great deal. I also 
taught a great deal; I had a studio of my own in Oakland. 

I didn t drive in those days and KGO was at 55th Avenue in 
Oakland. I had to take the streetcar out if I didn t get a 
ride. That was a long ways out and the streetcar was slow. I 
had to spend hours on it going and coming, though often Joyce 
Barthelson, the pianist, who had what we called a "bug" in those 
days a little cut down car would pick me up with my soft cello 
case and take me out. 

KGO in Oakland, and the great big General Electric station 
in New York, those two were the big broadcasting places in the 
nation. There was nothing in San Francisco. Later on there 
were stations, like KGO and KLX. We played for each one of those 
as they dedicated their opening. There wasn t a radio station 
around here that we didn t play for for their opening. But KGO was 
the cream of the crop because it was the only one that had its 
performing artists on a paid basis. 

We played constantly. We d give a whole hour at noon and 
another one in the evening. We would be on call for evenings till 
almost midnight. I would go with my father down to his office, 
be there by about seven-thirty or quarter of eight in the morning , 
do my practicing at my studio and then go on out to KGO, every 
day, then come back and teach and probably not get to bed until 


Rowell: almost midnight. I really was leading a life like that and 

enjoying it tremendously. But I hardly realized that, whereas I 
had been quite a hefty girl in college maybe too hefty for the 
Tri-Delts I had lost quite a bit of weight. I did go to the 
doctor quite a number of times with what I thought was a backache, 
but I didn t complain about it particularly. 

One day Joyce Barthelson and I were going to climb Mount 
Tamalpais the next day, a Sunday. I wasn t feeling absolutely 
tops and we were right across from my doctor s office. I said, 
"Oh, I m going over to my doctor s office." He had taken a X-ray 
of me about a month or so before. I went over and I said, "I m 
thinking of climbing Mount Tamalpais tomorrow." He said, 
"I haven t looked at those X-rays yet. Wait a minute. I ll go 
and look at them." 

He came back and he said, "Come on in here." He closed his 
door, and he said, "I just looked at your X-rays and I ve got to 
send you home to bed." 

I said, "But I can t do that. The trio has never had a 
substitute in its life. We can t do that! We re on the air. I 
have to be there day after tomorrow and broadcast." 

He said, "I m sorry. You re going home and you re going to 

I said, "You don t understand. This is broadcasting." He 
said, "I don t care," and he told me I had tuberculosis. 

I went home and called Mr. Bern, my wonderful teacher, and 
asked him if he had another student. (He had, I thought, some 
simply marvelous students who had much more training than I had. 
I can remember several of them right now.) He said, "I ll be 
right over myself . " He came over the next day and for the next 
six months he was with them. 

There I was, laid out in bed. Of all things, I d never 
thought of that. Being the healthy, husky brute I was, I never 
thought of that. 

My family was in Glacier National Park that summer, without 
me, so my cousin from Montana, who was living in Oakland, came 
over with her husband and stayed with me so that they could bring 
me my meals. My doctor insisted that I go to a sanitarium and I 
said I wouldn t leave until my family came home. Of course, I 
wouldn t write to them and tell them that I was in bed. My mother 
never got over the shock of it. When she came home and found me 


Rowell: there, I don t think she ever really recovered from it. I 

stayed there until the doctor insisted that I had to go to a 
sanitarium. They chose a sanitarium down in the hills out of 
Los Gatos, which they thought would be very nice for me, and it 
was the worst thing they could possibly have done for me. It 
was a fine sanitarium. It was a small one, run by a nurse. I 
loved her. She had only about ten patients. I was out in a 
little tent in the backyard. The tent suited me fine. But 
when this great big burly doctor there came to see me the first 
time he was Jewish, which I always had enjoyed very much he 
found out I didn t have a radio there. (I d never listened to a 
radio in my life! I d never had time to.) He was just shocked. 
He had heard me play. He said I had to have a radio by my bed. 

The family had to bring me a radio and I got to listen in to 
the Arion Trio every day. Here was Mr. Bern, beautiful player, but 
if he ever made a mistake which he did because he wasn t as 
good a reader as I was and it was a great deal of Joyce s own 
arrangements, which were just beautiful but in manuscript and 
therefore much harder to read if he ever played a wrong note I 
just absolutely died a thousand deaths right then and there. 

Riess: He didn t rehearse with them? 

Rowell: Oh, he did rehearse. Of course. But if you are going to give a 
whole hour s solid program, you would have to have six hours of 
rehearsal to make it as good as you wanted. We always rehearsed, 
every day for hours. 

Riess: Mr. Bern just didn t have time to rehearse? 

Rowell: No, it isn t a question of that. It s just that we played things 
that we had rehearsed and rehearsed before, and then were playing 
for maybe the "steenth time" in years. 

I had a hard time listening in to the music. Also, it was 
a very close tent and I was the only one to have a radio of all 
the patients down there. So they would all congregate in my 
tent with a much worse TB than mine. I didn t cough. Mine was 
a TB of the lungs, really more of a pleurisy type of thing. 
Several of my friends now realize, as I didn t then and my family 
didn t even, that I was getting a double dose of it every day from 
all these people coming in, sitting on my bed, coughing and 

Riess: It sounds awful! 


Rowell: They did that, just to listen to the music, and on Saturdays 
they would listen to those games that I wasn t interested in 
in the least. So I was leading a very strenuous life, not able 
to get out of bed and yet, there I was. [laughter] That happened 
for six months. I thought that I was getting better all the 
time. Of course, nobody took me out to test me with an X-ray or 
anything. I was supposed to get over it and get back to playing 
with the trio again. 

They finally let me out for a little while. I went down to 
stay with my sister in San Luis Obispo for a little while and 
tried to play my instrument. This was just a couple of weeks. 
I was going to join the girls at Easter for the great big service 
which was held at the Oakland Auditorium Theatre, which was the 
biggest place in Oakland. People always came the day before and 
stayed all night with their lunches and everything to get seats. 

On the way home I stopped to see the doctor in San Jose, who 
had been my doctor at Los Gatos. He was horrified. One lung had 
collapsed, which would be all right today when they have pneumo- 
thorax and sometimes even do it artificially for you. But 
under these circumstances it was anything but desirable. I didn t 
realize it until I went back to see him just to get the address 
of one of the people who had been with me then. Here was that 
great big doctor humped over his desk and weeping his eyes out. 
Then I knew. 

He said to me, "You go home and you go to bed. You aren t 
to raise your arms above your shoulders for as long ." That 
took me two more years. So it was three years altogether that I 
was out and the poor Arion Trio really suffered during that 

This is what you have to get in there. The trio really 
suffered. Mr. Bern was simply marvelous. He was living in Marin 
County, way out, during the summer when this happened. He took 
one ferryboat to San Francisco, another ferryboat across to 
Oakland, and then a long streetcar ride out to KGO, at the 
beginning to do it. That was really something. After six months 
of it he couldn t do it anymore, with his heavy load of playing 
and teaching. 

They began trying to get other people to do it and they had 
a very hard time. There were good cellists, excellent cellists, 
but they couldn t fit into the trio. They finally found a wonderful 
girl to fit in, Aurora Cravero. She was lovely. They were 
really very well satisfied with her. She stayed with them for 
about two years. 


Rowell: I was then back home. No sanitarium after that; that was the 
worst place I could have been. My mother really took care of 
me. I think I just about wore her out. I wasn t allowed up, with 
the bathroom right next to me, for the first year. My mother 
had to bring the meals up to me. Of course, I listened to the 
radio all the time. 

I might have said that at the Withy Ranch, whereas I was 
very skinny when I went in there, by the time I came out I was 
a roly-poly again. I tried to gain back the weight the best 
possible way I could. I drank mobs of milk and ate all I 
possibly could. I ate them out of house and home. I think I 
gained at least thirty pounds in the six months I was there. I 
looked it. 

Riess: This is such a nightmarish repetition of your sister s story, 
isn t it? 

Rowell: That s right. I ve never thought of it. 
Riess: Your poor mother. 

Rowell: Yes. I think she felt quite responsible for not having watched 
out for me, staying out until midnight every night and being 
down there. I d never been ill at all. I d never had any of the 
childhood diseases. I d always been healthy and husky. 

Rethinking Life, and Relearning the Cello 

Riess: How were your spirits over those few years? 

Rowell: At first they were very bad. I remember I came home that day just 
weeping and weeping, basically because I was letting the other two 
down so terribly. I just couldn t get over it. Of course, I had 
no idea it would be three years or I couldn t have done it. After 
I was adjusted to it, I was all right. 

The trio came to see me at least every week, usually a 
couple of times a week, and brought me everything under the sun. 
This was 1927 to 1930 just about. This was the plush time of 
opulence in everything. Even though planes were not so much that 
time, they would take trips to Los Angeles and buy all the 
fanciest clothes you ever saw, and broadcast down there. Los Angeles 
still was not San Francisco, in broadcasting, but they would go down 
for all sorts of reasons fly down and back and come in with their 
fur coats and their gorgeous dresses and all these clothes. 


Rowell: I would lie in bed thinking, "What for?" I didn t envy them, I 
really didn t. I actually learned not to envy them. I didn t 
read as much as I should have, but I rested a very great deal. 
I think I must have gotten a foundation fom that. I didn t feel 
sorry for myself. I just lay there. I think I wasted an awful 
lot of time. Other people who have gone through similar experiences 
agree. They all try to make up for it the whole rest of their 
life and feel that they never have quite made up for it. [laughter] 

You lie there absolutely contented. "This is the world, I 
take it as it comes, this is it." They were running around so 
fast, putting on all those beautiful clothes . What for? It 
really gave me that kind of a feeling. When I m running around 
very fast and doing it now, as I do, I always can stop and say, 
What for? And get back to that other feeling, and know how much 
of it is artificiality. I think I ve hated artificiality ever 
since then. But the girls were wonderful to me and they showered 
me with everything under the sun. 

Riess: Did you compose at all? 

Rowell: No, not at all. I don t think I have any composition in me. I 
used to think I did. When I handled all the music for the 
Partheneia, I found out that they had expected that I was going 
to compose. But no, I got somebody else to do it. 

Riess: I thought maybe as you lay in bed . 

Rowell: No. Composition wasn t done as much in those days. Today, everybody 
composes. I thought that was left for the great people who d 
already died. [laughter] You didn t think of people composing 
in your day and age. You really didn t. That was the day when 
you were playing everybody else. It was nothing like today with 
composition on everybody s fingertips. 

I think that that affected the whole rest of my life more 
than anything else ever has. 

Riess: In the sense of simplifying? 

Rowell: Yes, but also, when they finally tried to get me up to start 
playing the cello again, it was the most ghastly period of my 
whole life. Absolutely ghastly! I ve never been through anything 
like it in my life. 

The trio, I found out, insisted after three years on saving 
that place for me on NBC, which was broadcasting to everyplace 
under the sun. I, listening in and hearing every little tiny 


Rowell: thing that I would do differently every little error that could 
possibly be, that nobody else would hear I had the highest 
standards that I could possibly have. I d never listened, hearing 
people play before. I d never had time. Here I was, super 
critical of everything and not able to do anything. 

I got up. I didn t even know how to hold a bow. That cello 
was an absolute stranger to me. I didn t know it. I couldn t 
do a thing. I was in total agony. I called up one of Mr. Bern s 
marvelous students, who d gotten the first prize from the Paris 
Conservatoire, and had her come over. I said, "How do you handle 
your thumb when you go up?" She said, "I don t know. Look at 
me." I said, "Well, what did they tell you?" She said, "They 
never mentioned my thumb to me in my four years there." So, 
she didn t help me in the least. I just was at odds! 

Mr. Bern, my wonderful teacher, merely said to me, "Don t 
worry. You re going to play better than ever. Don t give it a 
worry." That was always his attitude. 

Then I had another person, who had graduated from the Paris 
Conservatoire, which was the conservatoire at that time. I had 
a boy who graduated from there come over and I said , "How do you 
hold the bow?" He said, "I don t know. Just look at me." I 
looked at him, saw more or less what he did. I couldn t make the 
sounds come that I wanted at all. Just absolutely nothing. 

So I had to start out with just about five minutes a day of 
practicing that was all they would let me and finally ten 
minutes and so on. I got no place. The thing that had been my 
delight was my agony. I couldn t get the tone I wanted, I couldn t 
get anything I wanted, I couldn t play in tune! 

I find now that this comes from being a natural. You don t 
know what you re doing. You do it the natural way. You can see 
why this does bear on my teaching. I couldn t find anybody to 
teach me. I had to teach myself, that was all I could do, and 
the hardest way possible, by finding out what worked. If anything 
ever had to come from the inside out, this did. 

I think I played abominably. I wouldn t go back to playing 
because I didn t like anything I did. Finally, what the trio did 
I can t imagine. Aurora Cravero was one of the sweetest, loveliest 
and beautiful players and they were happy with her. But the only 
thing they could do to bring me back was to supply her with a 
ticket to go back to her beloved Italy, where she had never been, 
and told me I had to get back in two weeks and play. 


Riess: Your hand was forced. 

Rowell: Yes, but I hadn t finished teaching myself, by any manner of 

means. I was terribly disgusted. I can look over my date book 
from that year I have it and it will say, "Played rotten. Went 
home and rested." The trio was then on NBC and I had to move to 
San Francisco, to a little apartment. My family asked me to do 
that because they knew it would be better for me. It was all 
very hard for me. 

Riess: When you went back, did the announcers and everybody make allowances 
for you? 

Rowell: No. Nobody made any allowances for me whatsoever. In fact, 

Mr. Bern would say, "You sound just beautiful." Joyce arranged 
some things right at the very beginning, before Aurora left, for 
two cellos, where Aurora and myself would be playing together. 
I remember Mr. Bern saying, "Of course I could hear you. You re 
so much more beautiful." But I knew I wasn t. Anyway, everybody 
encouraged me. Nobody ever made any allowances for me whatsoever. 

We were on not only our own program, but the Standard School 
Broadcast, a very fascinating program which we were in charge of 
and which went on for twenty years, something like that. (The 
fiftieth reunion was just held of it. They made me come over 
for it and presented me with a great big huge cake, so big that 
it took two people to carry it to the car!) 

NBC, San Francisco, and KGO, Oakland 

Riess: I wish you would describe the whole studio broadcasting set-up. 

Rowell: That was interesting. Just recently I read a review saying that 
the singers and artists of the early days of radio dressed in 
tuxes and long dresses. This was absolutely true. The studios 
for NBC in San Francisco were on the top floor of the Hunter-Doolin 
Building 111 Sutter and the studios were more than two stories 
high of solid glass. It would hold probably a hundred and fifty 
piece chorus and orchestra. The people could sit around on the 
balcony of that place and look down on you while you played. 
You would hardly be aware of them. Of course, you had to be 
dressed. The announcers were just naturally in their tuxes in the 
day time. There were those formalities. There was a certain 
wonderfulness about it. It was a world within a world. 


Rowell: Our president of General Electric was a remarkable man, the kind 
of man I could not possibly imagine. One morning we were 
fidgeting around before we were broadcasting, and we knocked over 
the big microphone a beautiful microphone and dashed it to 
pieces. The three of us stood there laughing our heads off. The 
president walked by and he said, "What are you laughing at?" We 
said, "We ve just broken this microphone." I don t know how many 
thousands and thousands of dollars it was, and he was simply 
marvelous to us, simply wonderful. I ve never forgotten that. 
It was just one of those things that people do, laugh when they 
should be weeping. 

Riess: In the earlier days of KGO did you get yourselves all dressed for 

Rowell: No. We didn t get ourselves dressed up as much in those early 
days. We went in in 1923. That was when they arranged for us, 
anyway. I ve forgotten exactly what day they opened. It might 
not have been until early 1924. That was just after I had 
graduated from college and I thought I was going to stay out a 
year and go back. 

We didn t dress up for that at all. I can remember that we 
spent quite a bit for clothes in those days. I went through a 
period resenting the fact that we were dressed up when we didn t 
have to be. I started wearing a middy and skirt outfit to 
broadcast in, which was the simplest uniform I could think of. 
A woman came to interview me to take her boy at that time. She 
didn t take me and I always thought that she thought I wasn t old 
enough to teach, because I was wearing this middy and skirt. 

(I had all the students I could possibly take, and then 
some, even when I was in college or right afterwards. At that 
time everybody wanted to take lessons. I had the first cellists 
of all the high school orchestras around. The young people, I 
en j oyed taking . ) 

Riess: Did you have an announcer who would say intelligent things about 
what the program was that was to follow? 

Rowell: Yes. I will bring you lots of those old programs sometime. We 

were on several programs with KGO. KGO, as I said, was the first 
station that really paid its people and had really educational 
programs. The days were given to music and things like that. 
The evenings were given a great deal to plays. Wilda Wilson Church 
was a very well-known figure. 

Riess: Oh, yes. Thomas Church s mother. 


Rowell: What? Really? 
Riess: Yes. 

Rowell: Well, Wilda Wilson Church, my sakes, the years we worked with 
her! She would put on the plays out there and, of course, we 
would have to play between the scenes and each act. I enjoyed 
those so much. Some times, when she had to have help, for instance 
with horses galloping at one time, I had to get down on the floor 
and use two coconut shells and learn to make those horses come 
along just exactly right. We d fill in with lots of things like 

We would be in one studio and they would be in the big 
studio, acting. We would be all ready when the red light went on 
when it was a green light we would be practicing there or doing 
anything else we wanted but when the red light would go on, 
instantly we would have to play. We would do that whatever nights 
Wilda Wilson Church was on. 

One night was educational programs. Those were always 
ingeresting because we had the professors from UC come out. I 
would always be listening to them, enjoying everything that went 

The evening programs were all educational and there was no 
announcement of any advertisements. I was just telling Frank 
[tenant and friend] this morning that not until we were on NBC 
was the great decision made to have an advertisement on. This 
took so long to decide. Finally they had to take a half minute 
of some product and that was the beginning of all advertising. 
Before that the people often paid into NBC, but there was no 
advertising. I ve forgotten whether it was a pill or what it 
was, but it was something that had to be advertised. There 
was the greatest discussion whether they should ever say anything 
over the air. 

Riess: How was KGO supported? 

Rowell: It was entirely a General Electric station. NBC was partly 
General Electric. It had those three chimes, and I never 
realized [goes to piano and plays NBC jingle] these were the 
chimes, NBC, GEC, General Electric Company. They never said 
General Electric Company. 

Riess: A little "in" joke. 

Rowell: Yes. I don t think I ever realized what those three letters were. 
Of course, NBC took them right on and that was NBC s signing on 
and off. 


Riess: Did you have your own fans? Did you have a lot of identification 
on this station? Or were you just studio musicians? 

Rowell: No, we weren t studio musicians at all. Did we have fans? Yes. 
We would have so many fans writing. I ve thrown away hundreds 
of letters. I remember one from Australia. How they ever got 
us over there, I don t know. From Alaska and all over and 
requesting. Sometimes fifty letters would come in a day and I 
was supposed to answer them all. [laughter] I think I ve gone 
through my mail and thrown away everything, practically, but we 
would be loaded with mail. 

Of course, they would send us presents, boxes of this and 
boxes of that and . 

Riess: Proposals of marriage? 

Rowell: Oh, I even had that practically. I had two different people, one 

in Salt Lake City and one in Chowchilla, California. They would 

both write incessantly to me, and both gentlemen sent me boxes 
of grapefruit. [laughter] 

The people would write so often, and I remember one falling 
practically in love with our announcer, Jennings Pierce 
J. P. he would be called and getting him to drive all of us 
someplace the other side of Sacramento where she grew violets, and 
she fed us lunch. But very seldom did we go out to meet those 
people like that; that was very unusual. We did get too many 
fan letters for any use. But the early ones, the one that came 
from Australia, I was really interested in. They were just amazed 
that they had gotten us, you see, in those days. That was before 
NBC even. 

Riess: The reason I asked about whether you were studio musicians is, 
since you were doing those intermission things for Wilda Wilson 
Church, did you get paid differently for all of this? Or were 
you just informally doing it? 

Rowell: Oh, no. That was part of our job, of course. 

Riess: It s not that for that kind of a job you became anonymous, just 
filling in with music between the acts? 

Rowell: No. We were always the Arion Trio. It would say on the program 
what we would play. 

Riess: Did you always have an audience at NBC? 


Rowell: No. People would just come in as they did and be around there. 
I can remember one day seeing this man looking so intensely at 
us as we played. I thought, "My sakes , he s interested!" I 
think he stayed at least the whole hour while we played. Then 
he came up, spoke to me and said, "I m the vice-president of the 
Crocker National Bank. I wondered if you know that you ve 
overdrawn?" [laughter] 

I said, "No, I didn t." I was absolutely shocked, but I 
realized that I d made out a blank check to one of my very dear 
friends going to New York. I thought he would spend maybe two 
hundred dollars, but he d evidently spent something like six 
hundred dollars and I hadn t known it. When he told me this, I 
thought that was the loveliest thing, for the vice-president to 
come and sit through a whole hour of playing! I wish all the 
vice-presidents did that now. 

Careful Programming 

Riess: When you went over to that NBC studio, did that mean that you had 
to get a whole new set of programs? How much of a repertoire did 
you have to have? 

Rowell: We had thousands and thousands of pieces in our repertoire. 

The thing that was hard was that we had to have our programs made 
out at least three weeks in advance because they had to be sent 
to New York and cleared with the publishing companies. We couldn t 
play anything against certain publishers. 

Riess: Because of royalties and things like that? 

Rowell: Yes. So we had to have our programs in that long ahead of time. 

But we had loads and loads of music, so we didn t have to duplicate. 
The Brahms trios, the Schubert trios, the Haydn trios, the 
Beethoven trios, and all of those are good for everything. And 
we were always adding numbers, of course. 

Riess: You said in your hotel concerts you often did a lot of short 
numbers, because that was what people expected, but in the 
broadcasts, what? 

Rowell: The short numbers were really lovely ones. I enjoy them very much 
to this day. I m very glad to see that the concert artists are 
returning to this. For instance, Leonard Rose came out and 
played just "Du Bist Die Ruh" of Schubert for an encore, and played 


Rowell: it just gorgeously. I had always played that. I think that it 
was either Casals or Popper that arranged that. David Popper, a 
very great cellist, did a great deal of arranging of these small 
classical numbers for cello, beside composing them himself. Of 
course, Casals arranged many of them for cello. 

Riess: For your NBC broadcast public, you had basically the same kinds 
of programs? Or was it "heavier?" 

Rowell: No. It was no heavier for them than it had been. It usually 
contained a movement of a trio in it. It was always classical 
music and it was always so that it sounded good with three 
instruments. I think that s the difference between us and others 
who had to take what was already written for them without arranging 
the cello part to be a musical cello part. 

Riess: Joyce continued doing the arrangements? 

Rwoell: Yes. 

Riess: Of the group, would you call her the leader? 

Rowell: We always felt we didn t have a leader, and I would say we 

basically didn t. But she would be the leader if there were one. 
Whether she knew it or not, she really was. I don t think she 
would have admitted to it, you see. It s very much like a string 
quartet. The old string quartets used to have the first violinist 
very much predominating and leading everything. Now, the more 
they merge together, the better the quartet. I would say that 
we merged very beautifully, the three of us, and knew how to do 
it. When one had the melody, we were with them to support them. 
Then we could take over rather than having the first violin being 
prominent all the time, as most trio music is written. I don t 
mean the great trios, but most arrangements have the violin taking 
the melody and the cello thumping along. We had them equaled and 
beautifully done. 

Riess: Was there any solo work at all? Were there requests? 

Rowell: Oh, yes. I remember playing, I think, fifty solos right in 

succession fifty different days. Not that I didn t sometimes 

Riess : That was part of the program? 
Rowell: Yes. Very often. 


Riess: Was it an hour or a half-hour program? 

Rowell: It just depended. Sometimes it was an hour and a half, sometimes 
it was an hour. 

Leonard Rose, Scared Stiff, but a Perfect Performer 

Riess: I wondered whether the fact that you were doing it not for a 

studio audience, at least at KGO, whether that made it easier for 
the three of you to perform? Or did you find the stimulus of 
audience missing? 

Rowell: No. That s very peculiar. I don t think the others ever got as 
nervous as I did. I m the nervous type when I play. I always 
got nervous when that mike went down, much more so after I had my 
bout with TB than before, because now I really heard every single 
note and every impurity of anything with the others and with 
myself, and was much more demanding and had less to give, for the 
whole first time at least. 

Riess: But the mike isn t as bad as the audience, or is it? 

Rowell: The mike is worse. The mike to me was worse than almost any 
audience could be. I could be playing just angelically in 
rehearsal, have them put that mike right down in front of me 
and I would shiver all over. All I could see was those people 
in Los Angeles, Spokane and everyplace. I saw all of those 
suddenly there before me and knew I was on the spot. 

Riess: They weren t friendly faces you saw out there. [laughter] 

Rowell: Well, it wasn t a matter of friendly. I think they could be as 
friendly as they wanted. It was whether I could meet their 
requirements, that s what it was. I find that today. I think 
that the more artistic a person is the less sure he is that he 
can give all that he has to give. When he falls short he falls way 
short, when the audience may think he s okay. 

I find that right now. Leonard Rose, who I think is one of 
the finest cellists we ve ever produced, solo cellist of the 
New York Philharmonic for years and so highly regarded. I went 
back to the Rostropovich Cello Congress in June. There were 
four hundred cellists from all over the United States. All the 
great cellists were there, the whole band of United States cellists, 
They were all sitting in the front row. I was sitting in about 
the fourth row, behind all these cellists. 


Rowell: Leonard Rose was giving the entire recital, the only cellist 
there to give an entire concert. I ve known his playing for 
years. He s very fine, perhaps too perfect a player. (Casals 
is not too perfect a player. Casals can make mistakes.) He s 
never listened to a record he s made himself. He ll never listen 
to anything because he says, "That s the way I am." 

Leonard Rose corrects himself down to the nth degree and 
then, when he finally gets it, he plays it like that, usually a 
hundred times exactly the same. This is done exactly there, 
this is done there. It doesn t get the freedom that Casals 
gives to his playing. So, it s absolute perfection. When you ve 
heard him play the same composition ten times, as I often have, 
it s played exactly the same and you almost wish that he would 
do something a little bit different. 

This time he outplayed himself. Every single composition that 
he played went someplace and did something to you. I never have 
heard better playing in my life. His Brahms was pure Brahms; 
his Schumann was pure Schumann; his Schubert was pure Schubert. 
Everything was just right there. He got a terrific ovation, such 
a great ovation that Rostropovich jumped up on the stage and kissed 
him and kissed him. 

When he came out for an encore, Leonard Rose said, "I won t 
play an encore unless Slava will play my accompaniment." (I don t 
call him by any nickname. I refuse to. Rostropovich.) So he 
had to sit down and play, of all things, the Faure "Elegy." He 
did very well. He made quite a few mistakes with his piano part; 
I could tell that they hadn t practiced together. But it was 
very delightful. Of course, Leonard Rose played it absolutely 

When it was all through I saw Leonard right afterwards. He 
came and threw his arms right around me and said, "Oh, Margaret, 
I was scared stiff every second." I thought this was perfectly 
wonderful. This really carried a great principle to me. He was 
scared stiff every minute, so he was absolutely standing on his 
toes and throwing himself into it. But he knew the music so well 
he knew what he wanted to do so it was the medium and he was 
inspired. I d heard him play so often when he had played the 
music, but that ended it. This time the music was playing him 
and he was playing right through it. The difference was amazing 
to me, and everybody caught it. 


Mother s Last Years## 

Rowel 1: 

Rowell : 

The Crash of 1929. 
then . 

I remember that, first seeing all this opulence, 

Rowell ; 

Rowell : 

You weren t that drastically affected? 

Our family was not , but most certainly the families around me 
were. To see that great change come over the world was really 
something. When I came back [from my illness], people were not 
getting , perhaps , as big wages as they did , even though we in the 
trio were at NBC. 

I mentioned going to Alaska with my father. I don t think 
that I went ahead to say that a year later I went to the South 
Seas. (My father then was on a trip around the world, with Marion.) 

When did your mother die? 
That was 1933. 

Was your illness such a shock to your mother that she never really 
got over it? 

Oh no. She did get over it. I don t think that was true at all. 
My mother was taken ill, and it was her heart. That is what I 
would think that perhaps I d blame on myself. My sister has laid 
blame on herself . I think everybody in the family thinks that 
they have. 

What really happened to her was that she did have a slight 
stroke behind one eye and lost sight of her eye. This was just 
when I was getting well. I had the great joy of taking care of 
her. It was really a joy, combing her hair every day and getting 
her all fixed up. She was sure she wasn t going to get well and 
I was sure she was. And she did. She not only got well, but 
she d always done all the work of sewing, cooking and doing 
everything and never had any help in the house. She had decided 
then that she would have help. We had a school girl come in and 
help us in the afternoon. 

My mother blossomed into something so beautiful after she 
was seventy that I have never seen anything more beautiful in any 
human being. I helped her get long, black evening dresses in 
San Francisco. She loved to wear my clothes. We wore just about 
the same size. We could wear each other s shoes and dresses. 


Rowell: She was president of the Women s Club of Plymouth Church in 
Oakland, which had a large women s club. She d always been 
literary. They had a play, and if they didn t give her one of 
the leading parts in that play! She had to be a young person in 
the beginning and she wore my clothes. She did her part up like 
anything ! 

She would put on her best evening clothes and go out with my 
father in the evening. Those last two years of her life were 
sheer joy to her, and to me. I ve never seen anybody enjoy living 
the way she enjoyed those years. 

A Trip to the South Sea Islands with the Trio, 1934 

Riess: Then you had the South Seas trip? 

Rowell : We often played many places where we had singers accompanying us , 
fine singers who were soloists on NBC. The Athens Club of Oakland 
was one. There was a whole, great big Athens Building and they 
served a Sunday evening dinner that was something. They had us, 
and published the program every week in the Tribune as to what we 
would play. We always had a soloist, one of the NBC singers. 

Miriam Sellinger was one of them a very fine soprano. Her 
husband was vice-president of Matson Lines, which was the line 
that ran to Hawaii and the South Seas. Mr. Sellinger s two sisters 
were teaching in the Oakland school department under my Dad. So, 
they had us up for dinner one night. I sat next to Mr. Sellinger 
and I said, "You know, I think you re awfully foolish. You send 
those boats out and you either have your jazz players try to play 
classical music, or you have your classical musicians try to play 
jazz. It s perfectly ridiculous! I don t see why you can t 
have both of them and have something like the trio." 

I didn t think anything of it at the time. I was really sort 
of kidding him. But in less than two weeks he called me at my 
apartment in San Francisco and said, "How would you like to go to 
the South Seas? I d like to send my wife (who was the great 
soprano singer for NBC) and have her sing and have the trio play. 
It would be a cruise." (That s something they do now, you know, 
all over Europe, cruises with musicians aboard.) 

The trio wasn t at all excited about going because here we 
were on NBC, and had so many programs on NBC. But I thought that 
would be wonderful! Finally we arranged it. NBC was really 
furious at us. They said they had to make, I think it was, eighty-five 
changes in their program when we left. They said they didn t know 
whether we could count on anything when we got back. 


Rowell: We were gone just about three months. It was that long. We 
didn t count on what we were doing. Again, I think they [the 
trio] enjoyed me enough so that they listened to what I said. Of 
course, I thought it was just marvelous to be going We did 
have a wonderful time. 

That trip came just at the time of the great big strike, 
which everybody has heard about, in San Francisco. That would 
be the time of Harry Bridges. 

Riess: The general strike, right [1934]? 

Rowell: Yes. It happened before we left, and San Francisco was in complete 
strike as we were ready to leave, so the boat had to board 
passengers in Los Angeles, which was not as union as San Francisco. 
We took a train down, and the train had to go in absolute darkness 
out to the pier, and we had to get on the boat in darkness, at 
night, without lights as I remember, and slide out of the dock. 
It was very exciting. 

Because of that all the help on board was non-union. This 
made the trip the funniest trip you ve ever been on. Of course, 
all the passengers were there. I had always gotten seasick, even 
on the bay, and part of the trip was very rough. Some of the time 
the three of us, the trio, were the only people in the dining 
room. The help wasn t there! [laughter] The help was seasick, 
because they weren t used to it! 

We did get to some of the very unusual islands, but it took 
us so long to get everyplace! We went to Tahiti and Pago-Pago. 
Beautiful, beautiful. We went swimming there, 
where all the little tiny fish were so bright and colored under 
neath. I loved to swim under the water at that time and see all 
the schools of fish, not just one, but all of them, the little 
blue fish and the orange fish and the yellow fish, all intermingled 
right while you were swimming. I was very excited. I loved the 
natives and I loved all their things. 

Some of the people on board ship were very remarkable. The 
head steward had gone to Oxford. He was fascinating. He and the 
doctor had us almost every evening for cocktails before dinner. 
The steward had seen that everything for the doctor was on board. 
They d been on together before. The doctor wanted plenty of caviar, 
plenty of this and that. So we were really dined every night. 

The fellow who had been to Oxford had majored in architecture 
and archaeology and had loads of stories to tell. (He was very 
much attracted to our violinist, Frances Shorr.) The conversations 


Rowell: between the doctor, who was very well read in everything, and 

this steward and ourselves, were fascinating. I don t think we 
lost a moment in trivialities. 

Riess: A dream trip. 

Rowell: I remember when we came to Samoa and we wanted to go in and buy 
the beautiful things, the Oxford man would have a fit because 
people would bargain with the Samoans so much. 

I had one of the most beautiful dresses, a dress I had made 
myself. It was an organdy dress with all the finest tucking you 
would ever see in your life. I d spent hours making hundreds and 
hundreds of these fine little tucks. I don t know why I was 
ready to give it away, I can t imagine why, but he thought it was 
wonderful to give them things, you see, things that they would 
really treasure, so I gave this away for absolutely nothing! 
[laughter] He thought that people were getting the better of them, 
and I brought back almost nothing. What I did bring back I 
remember putting on the bed and my friends coming, and within two 
days everything was gone except a little bit of tapa cloth. That s 
all I preserved from anything, because I wouldn t "take advantage" 
of the South Sea Islanders ! 

But it was a wonderful, wonderful trip. We stopped where 
Robert Louis Stevenson was buried, and then Nuka Hiva, which was 
an island people very seldom visited, the one where Gauguin painted 
so much, and died I believe. A very uninhabited island. Completely 
native to this day. 

This was a cruise , so it could do what it wanted to , except 
that we were very much behind time because of the strike and 
starting so late. We were supposed to have gone to Australia 
and New Zealand and we never hit them at all. New Caledonia 
was the last place we stopped south. It is very close to Australia. 

I had letters of introduction and had to get off the boat 
early because Dr. Thomas Goodspeed of the Department of Botany 
at the University of California, and Dr. [William A.] Setchell , 
who was such a famous man in the botany department, and I ve 
forgotten who the third one was , came to my front door with all 
these things they wanted me to collect, so I had to get off. 

Riess: The nicotiana. 

Rowell: That s right. 

Riess: Did you play concerts for the natives at all? 


Rowell: No, not for the natives. We never had our instruments off the 
boat. But we came back to Hawaii and there the people on board 
who were from Hawaii had telegraphed ahead and made the radio 
station put us on there. The people entertained us and did a 
great deal for us there. Otherwise, no. 

Peculiarly enough, we each one did what we wanted. The other 
two of the trio didn t necessarily want to go to Robert Louis 
Stevenson s grave as I did, and other people didn t want to do 
some of the other things that I did. 

I loved to see the natives. When we got to Tahiti it was 
real natives. I mean, without any clothes on at all. We would go 
around the countryside and see them climbing up those coconut 
trees and everything like that. I don t think it would be like 
that now. The canyons lined with wild oranges I think interested 
me, too, and the outline of those mountains, such precipitous 
mountains. I loved a great deal of it, yet I have never wanted 
to go back on a long ocean voyage again, never had any desire to 
because it was too long for me. People seem to love the quietness 
of an ocean voyage, but I got plenty of it. 

I mentioned meeting a very great doctor who was on board 
ship with his wife. I would sit by the hour and talk to him. I 
had had my tuberculosis at that time and [was] all over it. When 
he found it out, he was just fascinated because he was going 
along to study the natives and what our culture, eating habits 
and everything, were doing to us. He had gone before and he was 
seeing what our flour and sugar was doing to them. He was finding 
out plenty, with both their teeth and their digestions and 
everything else. He would get off the boat early and go and take 
his pictures and develop them. He thought that if I could only 
get to Switzerland and get the Swiss milk and be in those mountains- 
everybody thought milk and those things would cure you of 
tuberculosis in those days. 

I drank so much milk when I had my tuberculosis. I drank 
quarts of it every day and I ate everything that they put in front 
of me. But I ve found out now that I m allergic to milk. I just 
know that it was because I took my fill of it. Of course, I 
think they ve found out that it s no better than anything else for 
you. But in those days they thought that green grass and the high 
mountains and milk would cure you. 

This man was fascinating with his work on diet and all that. 
He brought out a wonderful book. I saw his book referred to long 
after that every place, in magazines. He had great debates in 
Washington with people over the diet , because he found out how 


Rowell: important diet was when we were just ruining the starving people 
by sending them our sugar and white flour. It was he who first 
told me that not even bugs could live on white flour and refined 
sugar, and that is why it has become the staple food to send 
everywhere ! 

Riess: Which of the Matson Line ships were you on? 

Rowell: The Los Angeles. Not a fancy ship at all. But what they gave us! 
I can see their way of doing it. You remember Mr. Sellinger s wife 
was on board. Of course, she had a beautiful room. But because 
their finest rooms don t sell as much, because they cost so much, 
we had two whole big rooms with a big salon in between, and a huge 
bathroom. We had by far the best accommodations on board the 

Of course then we took trunks along. People don t travel 
with trunks anymore, but we each had our great big trunk with our 
clothes in it. 

Riess: Did you get paid in addition to the trip? 
Rowell: Very little. We had to be paid a little bit. 
Riess: The union was ? 

Rowell: I ve forgotten why we had to be paid a little bit. But it was 
not the pay that counted, at all. 

When we were out in the mid-Pacific was when we found out 
how bad the general strike really was and that the strike had 
really hit home and NBC had closed down, or practically closed 
down. I think I told you everybody brought food for everybody 
else. Or didn t I? 

Riess: No. 

Rowell: Well, there were no restaurants in San Francisco open. There 

was nothing open during the strike. Everybody knew that everybody 
else was starving, so everybody made their own bread and everything 
else at home and brought it for everybody. So, everybody had too 
much to eat! [laughter] 

We got back to NBC and found out that everything had changed. 
They fired almost everybody. They fired their whole orchestra. 
We were not fired, but there was almost no place for us. They 
fired most of their singers. It was practically the close down of 
NBC. It went ahead a little bit after that, but they never had 
another trio or sustaining group as we were. Really the general 
strike changed every thing. 


Across the Bay in 18 Minutes , with Cello 

Rowell: When I came back I had my apartment in San Francisco, but then 

we weren t on NBC. So I moved to Sausalito. I got a place over 

I enjoyed it tremendously. It was a large apartment with a 
porch out in front. I looked right straight out over the bay. 
I could run right down and get on the ferry boat and go to 
San Francisco. Of course, there was no bridge. 

Riess: So you moved there for the beauty? 
Rowell: For the beauty of the place, yes. 

If I remember correctly I had a very large living room, a nice 
bedroom, a huge kitchen and this porch. I think I paid fifteen 
dollars a month for it. 

Riess: Golly! But then you had to commute all the way over to Oakland 
for some of your teaching, too? 

Rowell: Yes. We broadcast then. KLX in Oakland took us right on. I 
went to KLX every night and back, for quite a long while. I 
finally gave that up and came on to my family s home, where I 
hadn t been since I d left in 1930, after my TB. I came and 
lived at home. 

Riess: We ve covered a lot of ground and I d like to stop in a minute. 

But this does seem like a good place for you to tell the story of 
your amazing timing on your Sundays. 

Rowell: Thank you for asking me. I do love to tell about it because it 

does seem to interest people so much, and yet we took it absolutely 
for granted at that time. 

We had always given the main afternoon program on NBC Sunday. 
That was our big show piece. We played and we usually chose a 
fine singer as our assistant artist for the hour. We had done 
that since the opening of NBC. It was probably our biggest 
audience of the week. 

Then came those stations in New York, when they could get 
through out here, which they had never done up to that time 
sometimes we d broadcast back there, but very seldom but when 
they could broadcast here, when [Walter] Damrosch could come on 




Rowell : 

and conduct and have his program heard out here on Sunday 
afternoon, of course that replaced us. Yet they didn t want to 
give us up, so they insisted on putting us on in the morning. 

Well, for years and years we had played for a church in 
Oakland. The Home of Truth it was called, and it met in Ebell Hall, 
which was a lovely big hall in Oakland. I remember the mayor of 
Oakland was one of its main members. It had a very elite audience, 
always packed. Easter and the main services were held in the 
Oakland Auditorium theater. 

We always had to wear evening dresses there. The minister 
was a woman who always wore an evening dress. She was quite a 
speaker, really quite remarkable. We had played there for years 
and here we told her that we didn t see how we could do it. "Well, 
that was impossible! She had to have us!" So, we worked it out, 
and it worked out very well. 

NBC gave us the morning broadcast , ten to eleven in the 
morning, which was a very good hour. But we had to sign off at 
eleven and get to the Oakland service. The way we did it was, 
we signed off on the twenty-first floor of 111 Sutter Building. 
The elevator was waiting for us up at the top. We went down to 
the first floor and we had a taxi waiting for us. We went down 
to the Ferry Building. Before we got there we could hear the 
chug, chug, chug of the amphibian plane with great big rubber 
tires, in the water. We d walk out on the pier and get right 
into it and it would start up and go over what s now Yerba Buena 
Island called Goat Island at that time and land at the Alameda 
Naval Air Base. One of our fathers would be there to meet us in 
a car. In the back seat would be our evening dresses. We would 
race through the Alameda Tube to the Ebell Hall, get out there, 
put on those evening dresses, and come out and play the offertory. 

I had to call Joyce within the last three weeks and she 
actually confirmed that it was never later than 11:18, usually a 
little bit earlier, that we walked out on that platform. I don t 
know how we did it. I simply don t see. With our bridges now 
and going as fast as we do. I ve gone eighty miles an hour on 
that bridge, taking Bonnie and Nate [Nathan Schwartz] to the 
airport, but I don t think I could count on it. But we were never 
late, back then. 

Your fathers were part of this? 
taxi at the other end? 

You couldn t just get another 

It never occurred to us! We had a taxi in San Francisco, but 
San Francisco was totally different. It is that way to this day; 
you can get a taxi on a moment s notice, almost, in San Francisco. 
But try to get one in Berkeley or Alameda! You just have to wait 
and wait. You can t get one. 


Riess: I must say, that is a good story. Do you realize it s after 
one o clock? 

Rowell: Oh, no. What s today? Monday. When do I teach? I don t know. 
Riess: I think we re stopping right now. 
Rowell: All right. I think we are. 



[Interview 4: October 4, 1982 ]## 

Ingredients; Motivation, Intelligence, Triumph 


Rowell : 

Rowell ; 

You were starting to say why you couldn t say, 
with a problem. 

"No" to a student 

I love to teach, but I feel that if a student comes and plays 
quite well, and seems talented and everything, there are so many 
people who can teach a person like that, because they ll go right 
ahead for them. But if they have very serious problems, and yet 
love the cello, I just have to take them. 

It would be very much like a doctor having a patient come. 
If the patient seems quite well he can pass him on to somebody 
else; if it s not an important operation, somebody else can do 
it. But if he sees something that really demands his attention, 
and he thinks he s capable of handling that person, he ought to 
take him. He can t turn him over to somebody else, he just doesn t 
feel it s right to. 

So I have ended up a lot of times with an awful lot of 
"problem teaching." Of course, I think I ve learned more from 
my problem students than from my most talented students. 

More about teaching, you mean? 

Yes. I always would say, "I thank God for my talented students 
because they give me so much pleasure. But I learn the most from 
my slow students." It s with the really slow students, where you 
see the things happening as if they were under a microscope, 
that you really learn whether you re doing the thing that s going 
to produce results, or not. 


Riess: Why are the slow students even motivated? 

Rowell: Oh, they are so_ motivated ! I have never seen anything like the 
love of that instrument by people who have not got the talent 
to play it, but the love of it! It happens over and over. You 
just have to pull them along. 

I had one student who came every week at least by seven- 
thirty in the morning. She came over a period of twelve years, I 
would say. Her love of the cello was terrific. She could go to 
concerts she was a marvelous musician and she could criticize 
the players, and criticized them correctly, but she could not play 
in tune, and she could not bring out a good melody. I would work 
and work with her. I finally achieved some results with her. But 
lose interest? Never for a moment! She would be right there on 
my front steps and come in and her face would gleam so. 

Riess: You are unlike some teachers who would say that the first principle 
is to have some talent. 

Rowell: Oh, yes. Everybody says that. Everybody gives their students 

terrific examinations to see whether they can accept them or not. 
The only thing I ask them is that they really love the cello. If 
I find out that it s just the parents wanting them to start, once 
in a long while I ve taken them, but usually against my better 
judgment. I can sometimes pull them along until they get that 
interest in the instrument. But it s always a pleasure to teach 
a person who has that love of the instrument. 

Riess: How about the age? 

Rowell: I ve changed my mind about the age a great deal. Of course, I ve 
always said that age made no difference whatsoever. I think I 
got this partly from iny father. I mentioned that when I was 
still in high school he would take me out to visit the night 
classes, and I would see those immigrants trying to learn English, 
I would see these people going out at night to learn everything. 
He was one of the few who felt clear back in the twenties and before, 
even, that adults could learn. Nobody thought they could. You 
stopped learning at age twenty-five. I think I was just inbred 
with the idea that there was no stopping point. 

So , I used to take more real adults and start them than I do 
now, even. I think I mentioned to you a professor who came out 
from Harvard in the summer. Did I mention that at all? 




Rowell: A perfectly charming professor, George Wald. He hadn t yet gotten 
his Nobel Prize, or I guess maybe he had. What he did in one 
summer at age fifty-two was, to me, absolutely amazing: he was 
playing a beautiful Vivaldi sonata with vibrato and everything by 
the end of the summer. I was simply thrilled with what he 
accomplished. But he had to learn to make the body the thing 
through which the music came, and not play his exercises out 
there with his fingers. 

I was surprised when he came back a couple years later and 
gave a big lecture at Grace Cathedral, which was packed jammed 
with standing room only. Of course, it was on the peace situation. 
All the young people were crowded in there. I d gone very early 
and parked, and finally got a seat somewhere. Afterwards I went 
up. The crowd was all around him. I was standing way, way back. 
Finally he saw me. He came up, threw his arms around me in front 
of the crowd, turned me around and said, "This is my cello 
teacher." [laughter] I remember that moment very well. 

So, it is that kind of experience that you can have with an 
adult . 

Riess: I should think that with a lot of adults you must have the 

experience of dealing with so much of the intellect. They want 
to know the reasons why, and they want to discuss. 

Riess: Well, yes and no. I would say it s getting an interf lexibility 
of the mind and body which is so exciting with an adult. 

But with a child, I used to say often that I wanted them to 
have at least a year of piano before they came to cello. I found 
out it helped them so much in being able to read music and also 
to see that scale out in front of them. If they haven t had 
piano I always take them to the piano first and sit them down 
there, and do a major scale myself. Very simple. Just those 
white keys right straight up. Show them where the half -steps 
come. Then they can build their own scales all over the piano, 
so that they can see the relationship of the intervals and 
have that clearly in the mind. I think it helps so much. 

I ve always said I wanted them about nine years of age. 
Renie, who I ve taught for twenty years, starts youngsters at the 
very early ages. Four has probably been her earliest age, though 
she s taken a three-year-old, and done beautifully. 

She is able to take them slowly at the beginning, which they 
need. We don t realize that. When they learn very, very fast as 
a youngster they re still going slowly compared to an adult. 


Rowell: An adult gets frustrated. If it took an adult two years to learn 
what a child learns in the first two years, we would think they 
were very, very slow. But the child learns so beautifully if 
you can take them on those slow steps, and really know what those 
slow steps are, and keep them musically alive, with melodies and 
with music. We seem to feed them raw bran for the first two 
years and expect them to like food when they get it. They can 
just as well be using music rather than the horrible pages of 
open strings and uninteresting music. 

Riess: An adult who didn t have a good ear, it would be such an uphill 

Rowell: No. I still say, if they love the instrument, I couldn t give 

them up. Because I think the ear can be cultivated. In this one 
instance there was an obstinacy, and yet I knew the ear was good 
because of the musicality of the person. I think anybody can 
learn to play fairly well. I wouldn t say I think that person is 
going to be a great artist. But I do think that if they can 
learn to play chamber music beautifully string quartets and trios 
for the rest of their lives in their own homes, that has met my 

When I was back in Washington this last June, at the Rostropovich 
National Cello Congress, I was rather horrified at a discussion 
when the only thing that was considered was what kind of a living 
they could make out of it. That was the discussion among the great 
teachers, they didn t want to take any student who wasn t going 
to be a professional and bring them credit. 

Riess: Bring the teacher personal credit? 

Rowell: Yes. Well, they didn t say it in that way, but they would not 
accept any student who was not going to be a professional. And 
the whole of that particular thing fell on how soon you could 
recognize that a person was not going to be a professional, so 
you would not encourage them any more. 

Now, some of our finest amateur players are beautiful 
players. They are really beautiful! I remember a former student 
of mine came out about a year ago. His family phoned ahead and 
said they wanted to play string quartets at my home one evening. 
He had graduated from Harvard. He hadn t taken lessons since he 
was in high school, but he was the first cellist at Harvard, and 
he d gone on and he was raising a family. 

I didn t invite anybody in for the evening because I didn t 
know how he was going to play. But the music that came out of 
that cello! I could not believe it! The string quartet playing 


Rowell: that evening was of the highest calibre possible. When they got 
into the very, very difficult Brahms and Schubert, I wondered 
how he would do. The ensemble was simply amazing, for four 
players, bringing them together. I said, "How did you do it? 
Have you been taking lots of lessons?" 

He said, "Not at all. I learned so much from playing chamber 
music. I watch the others. I watch the violinist. I try to get 
my bow to match his exactly. I try to do this; I try to do that." 
Well, I was just absolutely bowled over. He hadn t had any more 
lessons, but he would be a pleasure for any artist anywhere to 
play with. I couldn t believe it. But that happens over and over. 

I get back to the same point. You can take lessons from 
the most expensive teachers under the sun, and the finest 
teachers, but unless you can teach yourself, you just don t learn. 
Nobody can teach you something that you don t really learn 
yourself, whether it s the English language or anything else. 

Riess: Would you think that cello playing demands a very great degree 
of intelligence, then? 

Rowell: Let me just say there are so many different kinds of intelligence 
that I have yet to find out what it is. I m absolutely amazed and 
stumped by it all the time. Each person I take is totally 
different. That s the most wonderful thing. 

I say that we play from the inside out, and I do not teach 
the person what to play from the outside, I don t even tell them 
what literature they have to study. I have to see them develop. 
I try to make up my own exercises for them, for what s the 
matter with them just like finding out what s the matter with 
you and giving you a pill that I ve devised myself, if I could, 
for that particular purpose rather than assigning them mobs 
and mobs of etudes which, if they learn them all by heart, they ll 
finally know how to play something. That s from the outside in 
and you haven t answered what is really keeping you from being 
your whole self and playing that instrument, with your full brain, 
of course. But it s so much more than intelligence. 

I love to think of children with the songs inside of them. 
You don t ask whether a wonderful black native in Africa is born 
with intelligence when he bursts out singing, or a Hindu in India 
when he s going along the trail, or anything like that. It is an 
inborn thing. To bring that out of them, and have it come through 
their hands the brain and the hands are the closest connected, 
much more than the brain and the mouth when you have that , it s 
much more than intelligence. 


Rowell: And I think it s much more human than intelligence. It s almost 
a cliche to say that music is a universal language. But I do 
think when it comes to weddings and funerals and graduations 

Riess: Celebrations. 

Rowell: Celebrations, yes, that music is the thing that you use and not 

Riess: Yes. For most people, so much of their life has been directed 

by the intellect, it must be, for some of them, a great awakening 
to go through this with you. They must fight it up to a certain 
point; you must have to go through something with them. 

Rowell: Yes. I suppose so. I think that s part of what I enjoy. As I 
said, if it s a hard case, then I can t turn them away. It 
fascinates me. 

I take the Science Newsletter. I m fascinated by the doctors 
and the scientists looking through microscopes and finding out 
things that you never knew before. And, I might say, looking 
through telescopes, too, which is the opposite. Those two things 
just absolutely fascinate me. 

I don t think I teach a person anything. I think it s them 
finding themselves. If there s anything I would call my secret 
and I don t call it a secret it would be that I say, "Playing 
cello is from the brain ear to the fingertip, without interference." 
Most people, and most adults, have a great deal of interference 
there. It may be physical. It may be muscular. So often it s 
in the shoulder socket. It s so often in the elbow socket that 
hasn t opened up. They would do it in tennis in a moment. But 
in cello playing they think they have to sit in a certain position 
and move their arms back and forth, instead of having their arms 
move even much more from a flexible back than a tennis player s. 
But they forget all about it . 

I have a little eleven-year-old student I ve been teaching. 
She s very talented. The last few months she s disappointed me very 
much. She can play every note I give her, and play them well, but 
the music that she used to have is not there. She was going to 
try out for something. Just two weeks ago tomorrow, I had her 
here and I said, "Well, you re going to try out for that. I can 
tell you you simply do not get what I want. You are not getting 
the tone you used to have and, somehow, you refuse to get it. 
I cannot teach it to you. You re the only one who can do it." 


Rowell: I tried this, I tried that, I tried the other thing. I finally 
had her standing up and crouching and playing her cello standing 
up. And she began to get the kind of a tone I want, which I 
call the positive-negative, using lots of the negative pull; 
rather than thinking that you push your bow out in front of you, 
you re pulling it right into the very center of your body. 

She came back this last Tuesday, and I never heard such 

quality come out of her! I couldn t believe it. I was really 

aghast! It was absolutely unbelievable. I said, "What did you 

She said, "Oh, I just sto.od up and played the way you told 
me to." 

I said, "But listen to that. Now you re playing from the 
inside out." 

She said, "Yes." 

Along with the huge tone was all the gradations of quality. 
Before, it had been a monotone playing, which most people play. 
But here she really had the quality down. Everything came. I 
said, "Is that any harder?" 

She said, "No. Of course it s easier." 

That was a real breakthrough in just one week s time. It was 
from zero to one hundred, I would say. So, that does happen. 

[break in tape] [returns with letter] 

Gerard Leclerc and Ron Crutcher 

Rowell: I ve had an interesting experience with my teaching, 
comes in a most roundabout way. 

It sometimes 

I taught a student the last couple of years of his playing 
at the [San Francisco] Conservatory [of Music], who needed a 
great deal of help. He was almost falling to pieces, I would say. 
Maybe he wouldn t like my using that expression. He was always so 
nervous that he would fall apart when he was playing a solo in 
public, let me put it that way. I worked with him trying to give 
him this centering feeling, feeling that his full playing was 
coming into himself. 


Rowell: He did give a perfectly beautiful senior recital. He couldn t 

find anybody at the conservatory to play piano with him, they are 
always so busy. So he gave a completely unaccompanied recital, 
which was one of the first ones ever given, on the most difficult 
pieces written for the cello: the Kodaly unaccompanied in all 
its movements, the Bach E-flat Major Suite in its six movements, 
and the Benjamin Britten thing I ve forgotten how many movements 
there are to that. Those three things he did absolutely superbly. 

A few days after that, maybe a week, he was in the hospital 
almost gone from diabetes. He was there for about a month or so. 
Before that time he had played in a master class for Pierre 
Fournier, who was at the conservatory, from Switzerland. Fournier 
had been very much impressed with his playing. So, as soon as he 
graduated he got up and went right over to Switzerland, where he 
studied with Pierre Fournier for about a year, and immediately 
got a job as first cellist and solo cellist of a chamber music 
group in Switzerland, where he s still playing. 

He has always been an exponent of this teaching of mine, and 
always carries it out to everybody else. He s the one that made 
me come over to Switzerland two years ago. Then he had another 
cello teacher come down from Germany to see me and so on. 

It was he who told Ronald Crutcher about my playing. Ron 
Crutcher heads the cello department at the University of North 
Carolina at Greensboro. He [Crutcher] called me and said that 
he had received, from the University of North Carolina, a grant 
to go into my teaching. His project was "The Mind s Own Instrument: 
The Creative Teaching of Margaret Rowell." I had never met him. 
He engaged me to come back and give a week s workshop at the 
University of North Carolina, from morning til night every day. 
(Of course, I insisted on taking Renie Sharp back with me.) I 
met him for the first time at the Rostropovich National Cello 
Congress, which I ll have to tell you more about, which was in 
Washington, D.C. in June. Nobody had mentioned to me that he 
happened to be a black. A beautiful, dark black with a beautiful 

That was the beginning of June that I was there, and it was 
the last of June when we came back home, and then went to North 
Carolina and had that week of teaching. He had brought together 
people from I can t tell you how many states in the union. There 
were fifty-four teachers. 

I flew directly from there to Pomona College, where I taught 
at the National Cello Institute for a week, and then came on home. 
Ron Crutcher came out to Pomona and watched me teach there for that 
week. Then he came right on up here and spent two weeks here, and 
I had about twelve of my students come in and play for him. 


Rowell: At the end of it all he said, "Now you ve got to give m a little 
bit of work." I only spent a little bit of time with him, but 
the letter right there is from the work that I did with him. I 
just thought that it was very interesting. 

Riess: He is writing a book? 

Rowell: No. He called it a project. I don t know what it s going to be 
myself. I haven t any idea, and I d just as soon not know. I 
don t know when he ll ever have it done. In fact, I put a card 
in the mail to him the other day. 

Riess: This letter is from someone who was one of his teachers. 

Rowell: I must have met this person at the Rostropovich National Cello 

Riess: She says that Ron Crutcher formerly had a troublesome unevenness 
which was very upsetting, etc., etc. [reading] 

"No more. I rushed back stage and asked Ron, What 
did she say? What did you do? His response was wonderful. 
In a very relaxed manner and with a gentle smile he 
said, She said to use a little negative energy, and then 
she showed me how to use the joints of my fingers as 
springs. To me, the key words were negative energy. 
They told me you had a deep understanding of our young 
friend," and so on. "You have given him something very 
precious and special and we are very grateful." 

Margaret Rowell s Sense of the World of Rhythms and Flexibility 

Riess: "Negative energy" you started to explain when you were talking about 
your young student. It is a disconcerting phrase, from you. 

Rowell: [laughter] I think I like it for that. People are always telling 
me I m too positive, you see, yet I don t consider myself an 
extrovert, I consider myself entirely an introvert, and people 
who know me well, I think, think I am an introvert. It s very 

I ve always thought in opposites. People sometimes say, "Oh, 
Margaret, I wish you wouldn t talk about opposites." But I think 
of the whole world made up that way. I just see day and night, 
man and woman, black and white. We wouldn t have any newspapers 


Rowell: without them [laughing], not that they re so great. Water and 
steel, and water and rock. All these things as opposites, and 
yet they re so necessary to each other. Water and rock can t be 
so separated; it s the very water action on rock that gives us 
everything we have. 

Riess: It is not a matter of setting up a dichotomy so that you can 
choose between one and the other? 

Rowell: Not at all. They have to work together. I think that we re in 

such a mathematical world right now, such a bound-by-the-straight 
line world. The straight line is everything, whether in building 
a building or anything else. Well, I don t see it! 

Rowell: I can remember sitting down with my brother, who was a wonderful 
man, and he would explain things about the earth in rotation for 
me. He had to do it over almost every year because my mind didn t 
always retain it. This morning, getting up and seeing how dark 
it was when I got up compared to what it was a month ago, I could 
hardly believe it. That length of the day was exciting to him. 
We would be in a restaurant or something and he would draw it 
out on a paper napkin for me, showing me the difference of the 
curves of those days. At one time of year, the day stays exactly 
the same; the sun sets at exactly the same second for several 
days, while at the other end it begins to lengthen or shorten. 
Then, as you get around the curve the other way, it changes. I 
never thought of the days staying exactly the same, but they do 
but not really, because the other end is giving. 

And then, the fact that there really are not just the 365 days 
to the year , that we have to stick in an extra day once in a while 
but even that isn t enough. Other people, who keep an absolutely 
exact calendar, have a totally different calendar than ours. Even 
the 365 days don t make it, because the twenty-four hours a day 
isn t quite right. 

We go all the way through nature thinking that we have the 
mathematical answers, when we don t. Nature itself is so flexible. 
I get excited by it, really, very excited by it. 

I think we show that [flexibility] in our buildings where, 
when we do build them as we do our Transamerica Building, out of 
stuff, we have to have the glass so that it is no longer the kind 
of glass that doesn t give. It has to give. My students who go 
down and play there tell me that the bottom of the building is on 
rollers that give as much as something like thirty feet, I believe. 
They roll around there while they re playing. Did you know that? 
I m just amazed. 


Rowell: This earth of ours is flexible, and we have to have flexibility. 
But in music we ve come through a lot of music where the beat 
is the whole thing and it has to be that exact way instead of, 
as Bruno Walter had it, with the beat right there, but like the 
day, you didn t notice, you hardly knew which end of it gave. 
There was that little bit of give, yet there was that absolute 
rhythm that kept right on going. 

Riess: Those are a lot of concepts. Positive and negative and 

flexibility mediates between the two. But tell me, what is 
negative energy in cello playing. 

Rowell: I d never thought of that expression until I got it here [in this 
letter]. I don t think I ever used the expression in my life, 
negative energy. It s probably Ron s interpretation of what I do, 

Using the Back in Playing the Cello 

Riess: You talked about negative bowing. 

Rowell: He didn t say bowing. 

Riess: Well then, would you explain what you said for the little girl? 

Rowell: What I told her to do was to get up and play in a standing 

position because then, suddenly, what happens is that your back 
and your spine become the center and not those two arms flailing 
out at the sides, as everybody has them. 

Everybody thinks that your arms play the cello your left 
arm fingers it and your right arm bows it. But just try to do it 
without your spine and it s something very insipid. You can have 
your arms very strong , with all the muscles in them working , but 
that doesn t give you what you have to have to play the cello, 
which is a whole back that is as flexible as a swimmer s back, 
as an athlete s back. Even more so. An athlete can get by with 
big muscles; a cellist cannot. 

A cellist is much more like a ballet dancer, who has to train 
and train. You don t see the bulging muscles on your lovely 
feminine dancers, and neither do you in a cello player. In fact, 
I think a very interesting thing is that the women who play the 
cello and get the biggest tones have the least muscles showing 
in their arms. 


Rowell: Joanna de Kayser was a beautiful cellist in the Casals master 
class. I think she was one of the favorites. She played the 
Dvorak concerto like nobody , with the hugest tone you ever heard! 
Wow! And her arms were like broomsticks, from exactly where they 
came out of her shoulder. She was as skinny as they made them, 
yet everything worked through. You could see that back working. 

This amazed me, and yet it didn t, even at that time, because 
I used what I call the "baby clutch." Anybody can hold the baby 
up, but to see it use clinging, suction hands so that it pulls 
itself up, that ability of that whole body to pull it up and down, 
is simply amazing. 

It s that flexibility, really, of a very young child that we 
are after. (Maybe that is the reason why it always has been 
presumed that you had to start young , because you had that 
flexibility.) Very often the "child wonders" began to lose it 
when they got into their teens because they began to harden up 
everything and didn t realize how flexible they had to keep. 

You are centered, I say, in your solar plexus when you play 
the cello; not in your arms, but in your solar plexus. I think 
rowing is one of the most marvelous things because you really 
pull your body forward and the ores come [gestures]. And with 
swimming you have to push your arms back when you re swimming 
in order for your body to go forward. 

It s this type of positive-negative that I m talking about. 
It is a beautiful pulling in, not with the arms but with the body 
coming out to meet the arms. The first thing I teach anybody is 
my baby clutch. I shouldn t use the word "clutch," but I used it 
because it, again, is that negative and the positive. You don t 
clutch , but every baby grabs you and every mother knows that when 
the baby gets hold of your hair it won t let go. 

When I can get this kind of a baby clutch across to my 
students, then they have what they need for the bow, and they have 
what they need for the strings of the left hand. Then I make them 
pull themselves right up with it. It s just loads of fun. I m 
going to make you do it with me right here. We ll just have the 
experience of it, even though nobody can see us doing it. 

You sit right there. Take me right like this and let me 
pull myself. You just hold me and I m going to pull myself up. 
Now, here are my arms, just like this. My arms are not like 
this [rigid]. I m not going to play with hands like that. I m 
playing with arms that are just here and my legs are like this 
[free, flexible]. I can use anything; I can do anything I want. 
That s it, and not this, when they tighten right up. 


Rowell: For cello, they re so likely to tighten or have strong muscles in 
their upper arms, because they think they have to come out to 
their elbows and then be free here. They ruin the whole thing 
of coming through from their back. Everybody knows me for my 
bear hug. (In fact, I had people send me bears and all sorts of 
things.) The bear hug is just, I always say, "X marks the spot." 
Just lift either arm up. Right here. Reach right out. Pick 
me up. Feel my elbow there. This is where they think they should 
come out with both their arms. Lift me right up. Now, lift me 
up again. It s totally different. Just from the back, I changed 

That s the negative of the positive. I say negative of the 
positive, you notice. I wouldn t say it was a negative thing. 
It s negative of_ the positive. You re always going some place 
with it. It s just the way the foot works, through the heel. 

Riess: When we first met you talked about the Alexander Technique. 
Would you say something about that. 

Rowell: I first heard about the Alexander Technique about forty years ago. 
That was when F.M. Alexander was living in England and teaching 
a great deal. I followed it then. But it has, since then, become 
something that musicians use all over the country. The theater 
and the musicians were the first ones, I think, to grab onto it. 
When I taught in England in 1974 and 75, we always had an 
Alexander person with us, from nine a.m. to five p.m. every day. 
I never could get in fifteen minutes with her, even, because she 
was so booked up . 

It is just a part of music. It is really centering you, 
right straight through the whole body. He says that it s the way 
the head sits on the body. It is not making you stand straighter, 
I might say, but it is making you stand more completely naturally, 
so that the arms and the legs work without interference, and so on. 
I think every musician should take it. 

Riess: Let me go back and ask you whether any great musicians have come 
from the ones that you would judge to be more problematic than 

Rowell: Let me think that through for another time, maybe, if you don t 

Riess: Okay. 

Rowell: I think I have, but I would have to give more thought to it. 


Ingredients: Determination, Taking Responsibility 

Riess: I wonder whether at some point what you were doing was providing 
more therapy than musicianship? 

Rowell: No, I don t think so. I really don t. I wouldn t call it therapy. 
Therapy would imply that I was doing it mentally so much, getting 
in thought and doing all this. I think that it is coming through 
their entire body that I do it. I always say that it s from the 
inside out. I do think it s good therapy, but I think that s 

Riess: If you have a pupil who really does seem to be blocked, psycho 
logically, and you can recognize that, can you help that person 
through music? Or do you direct them elsewhere? 

Rowell: I do think of one who, I would say, was very blocked. She first 
contacted me by telephone from southern California and wanted to 
know, if she moved up, if I would take her. I said I didn t know, 
I couldn t tell. She said, "Well, I want to fly up and have you 
hear me play." 

She came up the day after New Year s. I said I would meet 
her at the Oakland airport. I didn t know anything about her, but 
she had studied with somebody very good in Los Angeles. Then, 
somebody called me from Sacramento and said they understood she 
was coming to me , and asked , "Did she ever mention to you that she 
was blind?" I said, "Oh, no, not at all." 

I was prepared for it, then, when I met her. 
"Did somebody call you?" and named the person. 

She asked me, 

I said, "Yes." (This was still over the telephone.) 
She said, "What did she say?" 
"She said you were blind." 

She said, "Oh, well, I thought so. I don t want anybody to 
know it, ever." 

She has that blockage in her. She will not allow anybody to 
know that she s blind, she will not accept it. It is marvelous 
in one way, but it blocked her with her cello because she s 
marvelously intelligent she insists that everything be out in 
Braille for her, so that she would have it in Braille before she 
heard it or studied it. The notes, downbows and upbows, fingered, 
everything so that she could learn it right from the Braille. 


Rowell: Well, this is all right, but you re not learning it through the 
ear in any way whatsoever. She learned the notes, but she was 
playing on the surface of the cello, and she was therefore 
playing out of tune, because it wasn t connected to herself. But 
she got what she thought was a good tone, she thought she played 
well, and she was very proud of her playing. 

I met her at the airport. By that time she knew I knew she 
was blind. She was very heavy set and, of course, walked with a 
cane. I brought her home and she played part of the E-Minor Brahms, 
which is a beautiful sonata for cello. She played quite well 
when she got to the upper register, very poorly in the lower 
registers. (It s usually the other way around.) 

1 figured that out instantly. The upper position is really 
a natural position for us, but because it is higher and we learn 
the lower positions first, we think it s harder. But when she 
went back to the lower position she immediately tightened up that 
arm, and she was playing back here out of tune which everybody 
else considers the easiest because you learn first position first. 

Anyway, she was so eager that I said I would take her. I 
didn t know what it implied to her, to move from Los Angeles to 
San Francisco a complete move of years and years find herself a 
place in San Francisco, and then come out to the conservatory and 
take lessons. She never wanted any help with that. She found her 
way out on the different buses and found her way to my room. 

She had taken some lessons from Gabor Rejto, one of the finest 
teachers in Los Angeles, and he had once said, "I want to help 
you down the stairs," and treated her as a blind person. She said, 
"I can t take this." She got mad and just left him. I had several 
occasions, after I took her, when I corrected her with things, 
and she said, "I m not going to take another lesson." She d just 
be very, very angry with me. But I lasted through those very 
easily. I let her come back by herself. 

She wanted to always be playing in public. She didn t know 
how hard it was to put her on programs . She would learn the 
music quite well but when she was the least bit nervous which 
everybody is, I hope intonation, everything would go back on her. 
She didn t realize why it was hard to put her on programs. 

There has been a breakthrough this last year. I ve had her 
for I can t tell you how many years, with a little bit of improvement, 
but not a lot. I finally said she had to tape herself for me and 
bring me what she taped. She said, "But I don t have a good tape 
recorder." I said, "Well, use the one you have anyway." I knew 
the trouble was not with the tape recorder; it was what she heard 
on the tape that disturbed her. 


Rowell: Rapidly she has improved so much by having to bring me those tapes. 
At first I couldn t listen to them because of the quality. Now 
they are really beautiful. I cannot get over what she is doing. 
What she just did now, without my doing anything about it, was to 
find out different places to play Kol Nidre, which is one of the 
most gorgeous cello solos ever written. 

(I think I mentioned to you already, I played it twenty-two 
years in succession for the Jewish synagogue in Oakland, and 
loved playing it. When I had Galen I spent two weeks in the 
hospital afterwards it was a very hard birth and I came home 
with somebody to take care of me. They kept calling: "You have 
to come and play. Oh, you have a son? That doesn t make any 
difference." [laughter] So, I think he was just about three weeks 
old when it was Yom Kippur and I had to go down and play it , and 
I did.) 

I might say that the Kodaly unaccompanied is one of the most 
difficult solos for the cello, and that s what she s bringing me 
next time. She is taking responsibility; therefore, she doesn t 
demand lessons as often, and she s glad to get them when she gets 
them. I tell my students when they come to me, the best compliment 
they can ever give me is not to need me. She is playing beautifully 
and I am very happy for her. 



The Standard School Broadcasts//^ 

Riess: Please tell me about the Standard School Broadcasts. You were the 
director of this from 1928 to 1938? 

Rowell: I wasn t the director all the time, 
[break in the tape] 

Rowell: Three of us were on KGO in Oakland, broadcasting every day. There 
was a man who I may have mentioned, Arthur S. Garbett. He came 
in there to visit one day. He was quite deaf. The head of KGO 
was going to send him away, thinking he was sort of a pest, as it 
were, when the musical conductor, Carl Rhodehamel, stopped and 
started talking to him and found that this man had a remarkable, 
astonishing, incomprehensible musical mind. When you showed him 
the library of music there, for KGO Carl Rhodehamel was the 
conductor of the KGO Little Symphony this man practically burst 
into tears. 

It turned out that Garbett was one of the editors of the Etude 
magazine, which was the musical magazine of that era, and knew more 
about music and all of those things than anybody Carl Rhodehamel 
had ever seen in his life, so he got hold of him and he became 
one of the Arion Trio s dearest friends. Those two men together 
began turning out programs that were really something. Arthur S. 
Garbett, as far as we know, did the first writing about programs 
that had ever been done on any radio programming in the United 
States. ([Walter] Damrosch began it a few years afterwards in 
New York. Those Damrosch programs, as I remember, had Damrosch 
speak a little bit before each number. But it started with 
Arthur S. Garbett in 1924.) Our programs began to be known because 
of these things. 




r. m. T. 

11:00 a.m Standard School Broadcast 
"Emotional Music," Elementary lesson; 
"Modern American Music," Advanced 
lesson ; Arion Trio, instrumentalists. 
NBC Service to Red network KPO 

11:15 a.m Let s Talk It Over guest speak 
er*; Lisa Sergio, mistress of ceremonies; 
orchestra. NBC Service New York stu 
dios to Blue network 

12:30 p.m. Rochester Philharmonic Orches 
tra Guy 1 Yaser Harrison, conductor. 
NBC Service from Rochester to Blue 
network {KGO on 12:45* 

5:30 p.m. March of Time news drama tiza- 

NBC Personalities Margaret A very Rowell 

M usic director of the popular Standard 
School broadcast, a program heard by thou 
sands of youngsters in classrooms through 
out the West. Margaret Avcry Rowell pos 
sesses a lengthy record of musical achieve 
ment dating far back to those fevered days 
when radio in the Bay 
Area was still very much 
in its nebulous form. 

Mrs. Rowell is recog 
nized on or off the air 
as an outstanding cel 
list, one of the original 
members of the Arion 
Trio, launched upon the 
airwaves during KGO s 
inaugural program in 
1924. The trio has been 
regularly heard from 
that time to the present, 
automatically becoming 
members of the NBC 
staff when KGO linked 
its destiny with the net 

Mrs. Rowell was born in Redlands, Cali 
fornia, schooled in San Jose grammar schools, 
graduated from the Technical Hinh School 
in Oakland and later received her diploma in 
music and social economics from the Univer 
sity of California. 

Her ambitions during those preparatory 
years were focused upon social work, with 
music merely a medium for enjoyment. It 
may have Iwen a whim of the Muse Euterpe, 
unwilling to see talent sacrificed on the altar 
of materialism, that guided Mrs. Rowelt 
then Margaret A very into a career of mu 
sic, defeating the early aspirations toward 
social work. It may be, however, that the 
socisl service she has rendered by way of her 
mustc has even exceeded the effort she would 
have expended in the compilation and inves 
tigation of case histories. 

A charming, vital personality. Mrs. Rowell 
entertain-, convictions regarding musician*. 
estahhahed from analysis of her own expe 
rience and that of those whom she has 
known. That artists should live a well- 
rounded life rather than become slaves to 

their instruments is of paramount importance, 
according to her philosophy. A robot that 
plays notes mechanically could never develop 
the faculty of emotional expression, and thus 
it is with musicians who have allowed to 
escape that faculty of emotion with which 
humans are so blessedly endowed. 

In regards to musical instruction of chil 
dren. Mrs. Rowell expounds certain theories 
justified by many unfortunate illustrations. 

"Too often," she states, "music is allowed 
to become sheer drudgery to younK&ters. 
They are guided in their musical instruction 
as a mechanism would be adjusted, thereby 
not attaining a true sensitivity for musical 
values, but rather little more than a vmeer." 

In ieekiiiK to impart the background oi 
music to children, some definite association 
should be made between that music and hie, 
is her contention. 

"To create a feeling in children for music, 
it ia important to associate that music with 
things tangible." she explains "And it i> that 
educational purpose for which the Standard 
School broadcast exists, and as a result is 
hrard by air in many public schools as part 
of their curriculum." 

The last of the original trio to marry, Mrs. 
Rowell took that name approximately a year 
and six months ago when she became ihe 
wife of Edward Z. Rowell, professor of pub 
lic speaking and philosophy at the University 
of California. 

She is inordinately fond of cooking, espe 
cially over a glowing campnre. After a dirti- 
cult and ennervating day, she finds the 
practice of returning home and preparing a 
sizable dinner a most positive form of re 
laxation for her. 

Mrs. Rowell scoffs at the theory that pro 
fessional women should not marr> if thry 
desire to continue their activities. It is her 
fervent contention that never has she felt 
more in the spirit of her work, which includes 
both radio and private instruction, since her 

She espouses a simple but effective phil 
osophy "Be a human being first, and then, 
if you must, be a musician." 12-12-37 

Air Symposium featuring noted guest 
speakers. NBC Service from Town Hall. 
N. Y. C.. to Blue network 

8:15-9:15 p.m. Standard Symphony Hour 
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, 
Pierre Monteux, conductor. NBC Serv 
ice from Portland to Red network KPO 

9:45-10 :00 a.m. The University Explorer- 
Talk on "The Mystery of Easter Island," 
haetl on material supplied by Dr. Alfred 
Metraux, lecturer in Anthropology. NBC 
Service to K GO and California Blue 


11:30-12:30 p.m. Western Farm and Home 
Hour NBC and U S. Department of 
Agriculture cooperating. John and Clar 
ence, Farm V Homenizers, "In the Old 
Front Parlor." Western Homemakers 
Calendar with Anne Hanten, " A is for 
Apple." "Leaves from a Forest Ranger s 
I>iar>." Lou Barrett, Veteran Forester. 
"Review of Fruit and Vegetable Mar- 
kelv" Lev Jat-kHMi. Federal -Stale Mar 
ket News Service. "Thv 4-11 Dairy Club 
Program in the \Ve>tern Stale*," pre 
pared by Roy C. Jones, and delivered by 
Jennings Pierce. Weather and grain 
market reports. "Harvester*, 1 orchestra, 
Ricardu directing. NBC Service to lilue 

12:30-12:45 p.m. Agricultural Bulletin mar 
ket reports from Federal-State Market 
News Service. NBC Service to KGO 



r. a. T. 

12:45 p.m. Commonwealth Club Luncheon 
guest speaker. NBC Service to Blue 

3:00 pm. Education in the New* Shan* 
non Allen, commentator. NBC Service 
Washington studios to Red network 

6:45-7 .00 p.m. Your Government tl Your 
Service auspices San Francisco Federal 
Business Association and the National 
Emergency Council; interviewing guest 

8:45 p.m. California State Chamber of Com 
merce Program "March of Progress" 
stories of California s growth and devel 
opment problems facing the state today 
as told by Mr. William Adams and 
guest speakers. NBC Service to KGO 


7:00-7:30a.m. "California Agriculture" 
National Broadcasting Company presents 
agricultural series designed primarily to 
give voice to California agricultural or 
ganizations. Charley Runyan at the con 
sole of NBC s Philharmonic organ, pro 
vides the muic fare. NBC Service to 
KGO KECA KFSD KWG National Farm and Home 

11 30-12:30 p.m. Weetarn Farm and Horn* 
Hour NBC and United States Depart 
ment of Agriculture cooperating. "Uncle 
Skin s Fores i Ranger*," Episode No. J75. 
MiMithI) \\VsUrn Man--, 4-11 i Inn ;>u - 
cnuitun. California Clul> will bv i> .1 
lured, with Alameda County represented. 
Theme: "4-H Club Leadership." Monthly 
appearance, California State Chamlicr ot 
Commerce. Agriculture Department. An* 
other in the series of great agricultural 
cooperative^ of the West. Pacific am) 
Rocky Mountain time zone weather 
forecast*. The "Harvester*," orchesu.* 
under direction of Ricardo. NBC Service 

12:30-12:45 p.m. Agricultural Bulletin Fed 
eral-State Market Newi Service. NBC 
Service to KGO 



r. T. 

g.-OOa-m. Florae* Kale s Radio Column. 
NBC Service New York studios to Red 

6:00 p.m. Education Today auspices Cali 
fornia Stale Department of Education. 

Wnr C-ri/.r-^ *M nlif Rf *wwlt 


Basil Cameron, of England, guest conductor who i* 

directing the San Francisco orchestra during the first 

half of the season 


- . 

The Arion Trio, whose music renderings are an 

important part of the Standard 

School Broadcast 

The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, i 
for the Standard 

RADIO S development has enabled the Standard Oil Com 
pany of California to present programs of the world s finest 
music throughout the Pacific Coast area also to offer a course 
of training heartily indorsed by outstanding educators, who de 
clare it to be a most valuable aid in fitting listeners, both children 


!iH i>, 


Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, which alternates with the San 

Thursday evening througho 

from Standard Oil Bulletin 


Issay Dobrowen, of Russia, guest conductor who will 

direct the San Francisco orchestra during the second 

half of toe season 

low playing every other Thursday evening 
Symphony Hour 

and adults, to enjoy good music. And there is ample evidence that 
these activities have resulted in a marked advance in musical taste. 
Herewith are pictured Company co-operators in the venture. 
Elsewhere in this BULLETIN the social and practical aspects of 
music appreciation are discussed. 

Francisco orchestra, so that there is a Standard Symphony Hour every 
Jt the winter music season 

Dr. Artur Rodzinski, directing the Los Angeles 

orchestra this season, his second year with 

that organization 

Volume XVIII /Number 7 
November 1930 


Rowell : 



Rowell : 

The Standard Oil Company became very much interested in doing 
something over the radio. In those days you did not do any 
advertising, as such. It was a long process, but from the very 
earliest they chose the trio and Arthur S. Garbett to do the 
writing for it. He wrote all those early programs, giving all 
the program notes, then this was published in book form and sent 
out to all the schools. The San Francisco Symphony gave one 
Thursday night , and the Los Angeles Symphony the next Thursday 
night. We gave the morning broadcast, which had Arthur S. Garbett s 
notes in it, very carefully written. 

I shouldn t call them notes. It was really a wonderful 
explanation for the young people, about the music itself. It 
might be just the William Tell Overture one time. That has a 
perfectly terrific cello solo to begin with, and the whole first 
introduction is for six cellos together. But to sit there playing 
that one solo part all by yourself, you know, is really something. 

You played in the morning what the symphony would broadcast at 

Yes, and whatever music we did was explained very carefully to the 
school children. 

I have these books which I will show you. This was sent all 
over. I cannot tell you how many schools had it and how many 
thousands of children gathered in their auditoriums at school. 
They had the radio on and all listened very carefully. Then 
they were supposed to listen at home again that night. Whether 
they listened to it at home at night, they got the gist of the 
music in the morning. 

It was fascinating. Some of it was hard, too, because some 
of the orchestra music doesn t lend itself well to three people. 

How much preparation would you have to do? 

I think, now, that we should have done more preparation. We had 
about a three hour rehearsal, just the three of us together. It 
was years before we had any other instruments with us. This was 
all on NBC when it finally started. We gave our program with 
Mr. Garbett s notes long before we were on NBC, but NBC was 
where Standard School Broadcast was. 

That was going out to all the schools. We often had whatever 
instrument was prominent in the program. It might be an oboe, it 
might be a clarinet, for some solo part. They wouldn t do all the 
parts. We would do most of the illustrations, but we would have 
another instrument from the San Francisco Symphony, or the 


Rowell: Los Angeles Symphony, whichever one was doing it there. (Los Angeles 
didn t have any broadcasting studios in those days. They were 
merely a re-broadcast place, as were the other ones.) 

Riess: Did this go nationwide? 

Rowell: No. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Spokane, Seattle, Portland, were 
the main circuit. Sometimes Denver. Of course, once in a while 
something would go nationwide, but not usually. 

Riess: Were you well paid for that? 

Rowell: Yes. Very well, though not by present day standards at all. I 
was speaking to Frances Wiener Shorr the other day and we were 
both laughing at what we got in those days. But during the 
Depression we were the only ones who were really well paid, because 
we had that eighty-five dollars a week. That was a tremendous sum, 
much more than any symphony players could possible get. We were 
the highest paid of any musicians in the area working on a regular 
basis. Unless it would be jazz muscians playing or something like 

Riess: This was a ten year period, from 1928 to 1938, that you were 
doing it? 

Rowell: Yes. 

Riess: Through the Depression? 

Rowell: Yes. And during the Depression was really when our pay was 

I did something awfully funny. I ve never mentioned it to 
anybody. Standard School Broadcast actually started when I was 
ill. So, it was taking place when I came back and I had to jump 
into it as well as other things. Getting this high salary hurt 
me because I saw so much [misery] . Living in a small but nice 
apartment in San Francisco, I made myself live on what was called 
the minimum standard of living for women, which was very much 
lower than for men. I made myself live on it, which meant I never 
ate a meal out unless it was necessary. 

I always got up around four-thirty in the morning because we 
had a six-thirty rehearsal at NBC, and got myself down there in 
the black, walking through Chinatown at that time of the morning. 
If I got up just terribly late, why then I stopped and paid 
fifteen cents for pancakes at a pancake house on the way, and 
thought it was a wonderful breakfast. 

Rowell : 

Rowel 1: 

Riess : 
Rowell : 
Riess : 
Rowell : 


I would buy very black bread, which was not in style at all. 
Everybody was eating that fancy white stuff. I d get black 
bread and frozen spinach, and practically live on it. I turned 
vegetarian except when I was invited out , when I gladly 
overstepped. Diet was not even talked about in those days. I 
had learned to cook vegetables very lightly, which seemed to 
delight most of my friends. And I loved that with salad and the 
dark, darkest of breads I could find. In fact so dark it was 
hard and difficult to cut it. And I remember keeping it a week 
or more. I enjoyed the simplicity of my life. 

And I did give. I don t say this much, but I just felt that 
that money didn t belong to me in a time of depression. There was 
a UXA [Unemployed Exchange] type of thing and I gave whatever I 
had to that and felt much better about things. So, it worked out 
that way. 

Carl Rhodehamel. KGO Little Symphony Conductor, and the UXA 

Carl Rhodehamel , who was the conductor of the KGO Little Symphony 
and also very much interested in everything was one who , if I ever 
had a very, very dear friend, he was it. He started forming the 
Unemployed Exchange Association, UXA, and I gave a lot of money to 
it.* It was in Oakland, and it was a place evidently where they 
exchanged, particularly their labor, for all sorts of different 
things. If you were a plumber, you exchanged it with somebody else, 
and you did this and you did that, and they kept track of it. 

Did you play benefit concerts at that time? 

Oh yes. 

Did you organize the trio to do a lot of that? 

We were all, in the trio, of one mind, absolutely, 

We were all 

This was at the time of the great strike in San Francisco. 
This was at the time of the labor unions. We were always for that 
[labor] side of it, and it was very exciting and interesting. I 
would go to meetings at night. I would go to all sorts of things. 

*[ recorded October 24, 1983] 


Rowell: I attended a Communist meeting without realizing it was a 

Communist meeting. [laughs] But seeing that whole labor movement 
grow in San Francisco was very exciting. It grew out of that 
Depression really remarkably. 

Riess: And how about the Musicians Union, was it formed at about the 
same time? 

Rowell: Oh, I think it had always been going along. Peculiarly enough, 
the Musicians Union I hate to say it; if they get hold of this, 
they won t like it never interested me in the least. We put off 
joining as long as we possibly could. Even though we believed in 
labor, it always seemed to us that the Musicians Union was run 
by people who only cared about how much money they could pull out 
of the union, and they sat there at desks rather than anything 
else. I think that s what s happened to so much labor. We 
were all disappointed in what labor unions were able to do, or 
did do, I should say not able to do, but did do. Because they 
had such an advantage that we were all for. 

Anyway, we put off joining the Musicians Union for very, very 
long. For years we didn t belong, and we were the only people 
around the bay who didn t. We were on their blacklist. When we 
finally had to join, when we went to NBC even at KGO we didn t 
have to belong when we had to join, we were scared to death, 
because we were on their blacklist, of what they would do to us. 
Of course , what really happened was that they were so glad to have 
us come that they just passed us without hardly listening to us. 

But Carl Rhodehamel gave me absolutely everything. I saw a 
great deal of him. We were together a great deal of the time. I 
know some people said that he was one of the most intelligent one 
person who didn t know I even knew him said he thought he was 
one of the three people who knew what Einstein s theory was, in 
that day when it was said that only three people understood it. 

He had traveled around the world in 1899 and 1900, playing 

both the cello and, I believe, tuba. He played all of the virtuoso 

solos on the tuba as the soloist of this orchestra that went 
around the world. 

Riess: I think you alluded to him once before. Was he a good deal older 
than you? Are you saying that you had a love attachment to him? 

Rowell: He was older. I don t think I ever really went with anybody who 
wasn t much older than myself. He was about the same age as my 
future husband who was older than me, I believe. We were together 


Rowell: constantly, but my mother s old New England background about 

"waiting for marriage" made it hard on me. I know that I loved 
him very much and he loved me. 

I haven t told you about all my wonderful long hikes that 
I used to take in the Sierra with my sister. I will have to tell 
you about these. One summer, after a big hike to Mt. Whitney, he 
insisted on coming to Yosemite afterwards where I was playing, and 
we did all our hiking together, climbing the cables on the 
backside of Half Dome, climbing up Yosemite Falls on that zigzag 
trail, then cutting absolutely free out to Eagle Point, where 
there weren t any trails. Then going along through all the 
meadows, full of white and blue violets, and to the top part of 
El Cap. There were no trails at all. 

If he had to go to New York he would send me three special 
delivery, air mail letters a day. He was a remarkable person who 
did not graduate from college but read all the great books, and 
had a world sense for the future. He foresaw the Chinese 
revolution, and the Spanish Civil War. His was a great influence 
on me. I probably learned more about the living world from him 
than my entire college education. 

He went over from KGO, where he was connected, to NBC and was 
in charge of publicity for NBC for quite a while, but then he 
moved to Los Angeles . He was very interested in bringing sound 
into movies of then unheard. He did a great deal of recording 
of voices. He rented Rudolph Valentino s house in Hollywood and 
set up his work down there. I didn t see him much after he moved 
to Los Angeles. Once in a while, but that s all. He was a 
very fine and brilliant person. My life is much richer because of 

Concern for Social Issues, Upton Sinclair 

Riess: Where do we go from there? Actually, I m glad you brought up the 
thing about not really holding on to all of that money, because 
your heart really was with the needy. 

Rowell: Oh, yes. It was entirely. It was a very interesting time. 

A time of great urgency, like a caldron going around. You never 
knew what was coming next. There was no solidity to anything. 

Riess: Other than giving the concerts for the unemployed, did you become 
politically involved? 


Rowell: Yes, it was a time of ferment. I wish I could remember all those 
people who appealed to us so much. I think I mentioned Upton 
Sinclair. He ran for governor of California. We were all for 
him, very decidedly, even though he was "way out." 

I came back from the South Sea Islands , having been gone 
three months. 

Rowel 1: 

Rowell : 

When my dad said that I would have to get right down to the 
Income Tax office right away, I went in fear and trembling. My 
very good friend, the vice-president of the bank, always attended 
to everything for me. I, evidently, hadn t turned in something. 
I don t know what had happened, but anyway, they said they d been 
on my track and if I hadn t come in everything was going to 
happen plus putting me in jail, I guess, for evasion of 

I went in fear and trembling down there. The man behind the 
desk looked at my papers, went back and spoke to somebody else, 
and then came back. I didn t know what had happened. Then he 
looked up at me and said, "Didn t you play for the Upton Sinclair 
rally at the Oakland Auditorium?" 

My heart sank. I said, "Yes, I did." 
in charge of the whole music for it.) 

(In fact, I had been 

So, he went around, spoke to somebody else back there and 
came back and said, "Oh. All right. You re clear. Good-bye." 
[laughter] He had been there! 

Oh, and you expected quite the opposite. 

I expected just the opposite. [laughter] I haven t told that 
exactly as it was, but it was a terrific pile up. 

That Upton Sinclair thing, I got in that just by accident. 
I had been so interested in the black people in Oakland, living 
as they did in that complete district. They had a big, black 
chorus led by a conductor who I thought was simply wonderful. 
I would go to rehearsals of this chorus, .so when a great big 
program for Upton Sinclair being elected was planned , they asked 
me to provide the music, and I got this hundred voice Negro 
chorus to come up and sing for it. 

It was on a Sunday morning. Hundreds and hundreds of people 
were there. One of the main speakers was supposed to be Charles 
Erskine Scott Wood. Our trio played. This was when Joyce had 
already left for New York and our pianist was Elizabeth Alexander, 


Rowell: a beautiful pianist. Charles Erskine Scott Wood was ill and in 

his place came his wife, Sara Bard Field. Our pianist went right 
over and kissed her and said how glad she was to see her, and told 
me what a lovely person she was. So I, for the first time in my 
life, shook hands with Sara Bard Field, not realizing that she 
would very soon be one of my very dear friends , and that her 
daughter would be one of my closest friends. (I just got a letter 
yesterday from her daughter [Kay Caldwell].) 

Sara Bard Field got up and spoke for Upton Sinclair. This was 
quite something for me, it really did something for me, that 
particular occasion, seeing how interested the people were in 
getting something to happen in California. 

Riess: Did you become more involved? 

Rowell: I had said to Joyce, even before she left for New York, "I just 

feel the need to go back to school. I have to. I can t take this 

broadcasting, day after day, and feel that this is what I want 
to be doing." 

We had a huge library of music, a fine library of music, but 
when we began broadcasting just the evening concerts and so on, it 
was not as interesting. It became more like dinner music or 
something like that. I mean, to the people listening, even though 
they would write letters to us. But it wasn t the thing I wanted 
to spend the rest of my life doing. I felt the urge for something 
much more. If I had been able, or if I had even wanted to branch 
out to be a soloist, but I never had any desire to sit up on the 
platform and be a virtuoso. I loved to play the melodies. I 
loved music. But I didn t have that instinct in me to be a 
soloist. I was more a musician than a born performer. 

Riess: And so you were trying to figure out where it was all going. 

Rowell: I knew I wanted to study. Joyce knew what I meant. I said, 
"I want to go back and see what I can do." 

I went to summer school at the university and took a course 
in race relations, among other things. It was there that I met 
the wonderful conductor of the black chorus. It was then that 
I would go down to West Oakland and listen to them rehearse, and 
I felt absolutely at home. My teacher of the summer, out from 
Columbia University, took me to an NAACP meeting. The two of us 
were the only white people there. Afterwards she said, "I took 
you just to see how you would behave. You re a natural." 


Rowell: I was brought up that way. The family across the street from us 
was a mother with her three Jewish daughters. One of them stayed 
home from school every year to take care of the mother and to 
work while the other two went to school. They all graduated 
from college, and they all three took that marvelous care of their 
mother. We had them across for dinner. I never even knew if 
there is such a thing as looking Jewish, they did, but it wasn t 
until they d all graduated from college and I d been through all 
that time, that I ever knew the word Jew or knew that they were 
Jewish. They were just the best of friends, and I loved them. I 
thank my parents for this type of an education. People were people. 
Negroes were people. Everyone. So, I was prepared for it and 
loved it. 

Ed Rowell s Class in Public Speaking 




When you decided to start back to school, the first thing that 
you chose was this summer session course in race relations. 

Yes. Then I found out, at the end of summer session, this same 
teacher who was so interesting thought I should go into the 

field of social work. "There s only one thing," she said, 
simply do not know how to speak in public." 


I could not , even up to that time , get up and say anything in 
class. It was impossible for me to do. I went all through 
college. Even in my history sections I couldn t recite. I could 
write anything down, but I couldn t get up and recite. I still 
get a lump in my throat every time I have to get up and talk. 

When I got the American String Teacher s Association Award 
for the Outstanding Music Teacher of the Year, in 1977, of course 
I was the main speaker. I prepared for that for months ahead of 
time. I started in in the fall and had it well prepared. Renie 
Sharp and I went back to Kansas City, where the convention was. 
She says to this day I was shaking all over. I didn t sleep the 
night before. I never thought I was going to be able to get 
through it, no voice would come at all. Of course, I went out and 
did it all right. It came off very well. To this day I m always 
nervous . 

I thought you were going to tell me a success story, about how 
you had been nervous and then you took a class in public speaking 
and you were never nervous again. 


Rowell: Oh, no. Nothing like that. We haven t gotten to the public 
speaking class though, have we? 

Riess: No. You said that your teacher had said that if you were going 

Rowell: Oh, she said that I had to take a public speaking class. Yes. 

But I was still broadcasting all the time. I had to meet my 

rhearsals and I had to meet my performances. So I had to choose 

a class that could fit in, and the only one was Monday at one 
o clock. 

I walked into the class. I think I wore my hat. Of course, 
I was dressed just ready to go to broadcast, with my cello under 
one arm. I always carried a big satchel of music with the other 
hand. I walked into this class and the professor stopped the 
class dead it had already begun and said, "Margaret Avery! What 
are you doing here?" 

Riess: How embarrassing. 

Rowell: I said, "I ll tell you afterwards." I put my cello in a corner 
and sat down. That was my future husband, [laughter] 

I had never looked to see who was going to teach the class. 
He was the only one I could have at that period. My teacher had 
asked me to be sure to get Professor [Arnold] Perstein, because 
he would deal with race relations. So, I went up afterwards. 
(I d forgotten at that time that I d met Professor Rowell before.) 
I said, "I have to take speech, but I have been told to get 
Professor Perstein." 

He said, "Well, I think I can do just as well by you." 
(He always spoke very deliberately.) "I think I can give you the 
general principles and everything that will underlie it, and 
you will be just as well off." [laughter] So, that was that. 

This was just as Joyce was leaving for New York and had left 
us without a pianist, and we had to choose one. The union was 
being very nasty, as they are, and we had to choose a union player. 
The only one we wanted was Elizabeth Alexander, who was a perfectly 
gorgeous pianist and played for all the big singers, opera singers 
from New York who would come out in the summer time and she 
would work with them the whole summer and then they would give 
concerts around here before they went back to give their New York 
concerts. That made them feel sure. We wanted her, but we couldn t 
because of the Musicians Union. What we did was to have to go 
through trying out these different pianists and turning them down. 


Rowell: It was my business to go to the union and say we wanted Elizabeth 
Alexander, and she would join the union. You see, you were not 
allowed to join the union to play a project. You had to already 
belong. So, I went to Ed Rowell and said, "I have to make a 
speech for the Musicians Union. Maybe you can help me with that?" 

He said, "You meet me at lunch at the Faculty Club." 

So, we did. I don t know how much we discussed about it. I 
don t know how much he really helped me. That thing turned out 
very well and we did get Elizabeth Alexander. 

I remember having lunch with Ed and [Joel] Hildebrand and a 
professor from the law school. Professor Ballentine. I 
remember having lunch with those three, and it was very interesting. 
He said he was going to ask me again. But I was in his class, 
and I didn t think anything; I liked him, but I didn t have any 
attachment to him whatsoever, though I would hear the girls say 
in the class, "Oh, isn t he wonderful!" 

Riess: You were a good deal older than the others in the class, weren t 

Rowell: Yes, I was. That s awfully funny you mention that, because age 
never meant anything to me, and it still doesn t. I wake up in 
the morning and have to remind myself that I m eighty-one, because 
I really can t feel it. I really don t know it. I think many 
people feel this. I never realized that I was an older person 
in the class. You mention that and it comes as a surprise to 

Riess: People are very interested in the idea of women returning in 
their middle years and going back to school. 

Rowell: Then I should mention that my mother went to evening school. 
She learned all of her millinery and such arts there. In her 
very late years she took courses in political science at UC. I 
thought it was a very natural thing. I never gave it a second 
thought. Now that you mention it, I was older. 

An Earlier Meeting with Ed; Marriage 


Rowell : 

And how had you met Professor Rowell before? 
met him. 

You said you had 

Oh, yes. I most certainly had! My father taught and was principal 
of the Redlands High School. He was very devoted to his students 
and he would tell all his students they had to go to Stanford. 

Above left: 
Professor Edward 
Z. Rowell, 
ca. 1936. 

Above right: 
The wedding of 
Edward Z. Rowell 
and Margaret 
Avery, May 24, 

Left: A post- 

reception, 1967. 
Left to right, 
butler serving 
James Mayfield 
Kaye , and 
Professor and 
Mrs. Rowell. 


Rowell: One of his outstanding students was Herbert Stolz. Of course 

my father told him, as he told other students, that he had to go 
to Stanford. So, Herbert Stolz came to Stanford where, in no 
time, he was David Starr Jordan s first-hand person. Went with 
him every place, helped him with his lectures, did everything 
for him. He became a medical doctor and went on to be in charge 
of all physical education for California schools, where my sister 
Marion knew him so well. 

I didn t know him that well, but his mother had been a 
doctor in Redlands, in the town I was born in. I can remember her 
walking up and down those streets, with her great, big swishing 
skirt. When she died in Oakland, in 1933, Herbert Stolz called 
me up and said the memorial service would be a month or so after 
her death and he wanted the Arion Trio to give the concert. He 
said, "There will be no funeral whatsoever. We just want a 
concert by you three, and that will be it." 

We came out to their home in Berkeley, off of the Arlington, 
on a Sunday afternoon, December 11, 1933, and gave the concert. 
It was just the relatives. I would say there were maybe twenty 
or thirty of them, at the most, sitting around in the living 
room, with a beautiful Steinway. I didn t know at that time that 
his wife was a very accomplished pianist who had studied with 
Mr. Raab, one of the great pianists of Vienna, Austria, whom she 
was later to bring over here, to Berkeley, where he lived and 
died, and had a school of pianists who are still the outstanding 
teachers of Berkeley. 

We played our concert on that Sunday afternoon played all 
our things and were ready to go. We had to get back to play at 
the Athens Club, where we always gave the Sunday evening 
concert. (As I said, the trio always went every place together.) 
But this gentleman with a beard just kept talking and talking 
to me. At last I broke away and left. The trio kidded me a 
little bit on the way down. I wouldn t have known him if I had 
met him again. 

Several months later evidently this particular person he 
was a cousin of Herbert Stolz called him up and said, "If you 
ever should invite Margaret Avery, invite me." (It seemed 
that he had lost his wife six years before from cancer and every 
body had been trying to get him married off, and he wouldn t look 
at anybody.) They waited about six months and then they invited 
me for dinner. 

Well, an offer to go to Herbert Stolz s for dinner was just 
right down my alley. That was something I would do in a minute, 
even though I was living in San Francisco at the time. My sister 


Rowell: Marion said, "I know it isn t you that s invited. I know it s 
me!" because she knew Herbert Stolz so well. My father had to 
call up twice to be sure that it was I that was supposed to come. 

I came over from San Francisco and went out with my dad. I 
sat next to a man I d never seen before a very clean-shaven man. 
I never paid any attention to him whatsoever, because I was just 
crazy about Herbert Stolz. I sat with Herbert Stolz, ignoring 
this gentleman to the left of me. My father was just ready to 
depart on his trip around the world, and I was just ready to 
depart for the South Sea Islands. I was full of that, I guess, and 
I didn t remember who sat next to me. I really didn t. [laughter] 
So, that is the time when Ed Rowell had been invited. He said 
that I didn t pay any attention to him and he saw there was no use 
in carrying it any further, whatsoever. Which he didn t. 

Before I registered for his class he had been a year at 
Stanford, on his sabbatical, and had come back. I went to his 
class. Here was this man, and I d seen him once on the street with 
Professor Watkins, but it didn t make any impresson on me at all 
because here was this clean-shaven man. I never 
knew they were the same person until I was engaged to him. 

Riess: He must have thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world 
to have you come into his classroom. 

Rowell: Well, he most certainly waited long enough before he asked me for 
another noon at the Faculty Club. It was several months before 
he asked me again. Then he said, "Would you sometimes bring your 
lunch up and eat it with me?" So, I did. Of course, I did see 
what a wonderful person he was. Then, when I had to make my speech, 
he helped me. 

We were very interested in each other. He had a daughter, 
sixteen years old. When he brought me up to this home, I couldn t 
believe it! It s just a block away from where Joyce Barthelson 
always lived where her husband, who was a builder, built her 
house and many others. She was a wonderful cook and she would 
have us over for dinner. Both Frances and I, living alone, would 
love to come over. She would say, "Go on and take a walk." We d 
go out with her husband and take a walk. 

We would make one turn and be on Miller Avenue. I remember 
this house and the wonderful flowers and the roses right up the 
path. I stopped in, just to smell them, because I never would 
touch a flower in anybody else s garden. This was the only house 
between here and Joyce s, I guess. But I had no idea that Ed 
would bring me up to the very house that I remembered. 


Rowell: That was the beginning of the end. We were engaged while I was 

still taking his course and nobody in the class ever, ever guessed 
it. He wanted to be sure of that. The class ended about May 
17 or 18, and we were married May 24. I think the class was very 
much surprised. 

Riess: Would it have been considered to be a scandal? 

Rowell: Not at all. Not in any way. It was just a matter of my getting 
up to make speeches in class and that type of thing. Not in any 
way a scandal. 

In fact, I remember I was taking another class at the 
university and found out the two classes were too much with all I 
was doing. I wanted to drop my psychology class, but the 
professor said, "You shouldn t drop it." 

I said, "But I m going to be married." 

He said, "That doesn t make any difference, 
course up to two weeks before she was married." 

My wife took my 

Helen Keller 

Riess : 

Rowell : 

When we first met you had a clipping about Helen Keller.* 
was that? 


On, Helen Keller when I think of Helen Keller I just want to put 

my arms out and do something. I had read her book, as every kid did. 

I worshipped her as a child. 

When the trio was on NBC in the very early years, out in 
Oakland, where KGO had its headquarters, the head of the music end 
of it and the head of the broadcasting end of it were both very 
good friends of ours. I was amazed one day when they came in 
and said, "Just don t get excited, but Helen Keller is coming." 

I was of course very excited. To this moment I cannot tell 
you whether Mrs. Sullivan was with her or not, or whether it was 
after Mrs. Sullivan had died. I can t tell you. This was in the 
early 1920s. But to have Helen Keller there! It didn t mean as 
much , I can tell you that , to the other two in the trio as it did 
to me, because I don t think they d made this great hero out of 
her that I had. 

*[ recorded October 24, 1983] 


Rowell: The whole idea was that it was the very early days of radio, 
and of course we had the strongest radio on the West Coast , so 
it was a question of whether they could turn the volume up high 
enough so that she could eventually hear. That was the whole 
idea. They were just so sure that with earphones on and everything 
turned up high, that she could hear us, you see. 

Was that where they actually took the movie? I ve forgotten. 
They brought the movie machine either there or at a later place. 
A movie machine, which was unusual in those days, a whole movie 
outfit taking pictures of this great event of Helen Keller. 
(And it doesn t turn out that way quite.) 

But anyway, she was just wonderful. She came into the studio, 
and she was just as lovely and wonderful as I thought she would be. 
We were so excited playing for her. They turned the music up and 
up and up and up. And the horrible thing was when she didn t 
hear anything. She really didn t. 

But she did hear vibrations I mean she did feel vibrations. 
So she insisted on getting down on her hands and knees in front of 
me and holding her hands on my cello like this and then asking 
me to play different things, and her face would just light up. 
Just little old tunes like "Annie Laurie" and all that kind of 
stuff. And "Yankee Doodle" or something like that that had rhythm 
to it. She would put her hands right there and then feel the 
vibrations of the music. I don t know how she did it. To me that 
was just a moment in history, to have her right there on her knees 
in front of my cello, you see! 

Of course we went down to see the movie, and they had everything 
except a shot of me. You can see the shot, but you can t see me. 
[laughter] I was very disappointed. Because that was in a regular 
movie theater that they showed it, and there I wasn t. [laughter] 

I always remembered her. A kinder memory of somebody I haven t 
got. It was just lovely for me. 



[Interview 5: October 11, 1982 ]## 

Marriage, Chamber Music Playing 

Riess: Among your papers I found this clipping. [reads] "Mrs. Rowell 
scoffs at the theory that professional women should not marry if 
they desire to continue their activities. It is her fervent 
contention that never has she felt more in the spirit of her work, 
which includes both radio and private instruction, since her 
marriage. " 

Rowell: Yes. I still believe that, just as much as I did then, and that 
was quite a while ago, as you can tell by the picture and the 
black hair I had. 

Riess: Were you really ready to give up being a performer? 

Rowell: It wasn t a question of that. It wasn t a question of either or. 

As I was saying before, I felt the need so much to have more in 

my life than just broadcasting hours a day and preparing for that. 

It seemed to me that I was missing a great deal of what I had 

when I went to college, which was studying and enlarging my life 
outside of music. 

I think that I was very, very ready for marriage. Not with 
the idea of giving up all music, which I did not do, but with the 
idea of experiencing what I hadn t experienced before and enjoying 
that. Oh, I wouldn t have gone without it for anything in the 

Riess: You said earlier that your husband had I think you actually used 
a word like "forbidden." 


Rowell: Oh no. He didn t forbid me to do anything. He was the kindest, 
most gentle person you could possibly imagine. I guess I did say 
that he didn t want me to earn my living or be a real professional 
musician, in that sense of the word, after we were married. 

That was perfectly all right with me. I was ready for it. 
I enjoyed chamber music much more than solo playing. I didn t 
play with the professional musicians with whom I played with 
before, but Berkeley was full of fine players. 

I would like to mention one of them particularly because not 
only was she a beautiful violinist, she was such a lovely human 
being. It was a wonderful thing to go from our violinist, 
Frances Shorr, whom I adored, to Barbara Lull Rahm. She had just 
come out from the East. Roger Sessions brought her out to be the 
concert master of the UC Symphony. I knew very little about her 
past. Immediately we began playing together, trios and quartets 
and everything. 

She had studied with Leopold Auer. Leopold Auer was the 
teacher of, I can t begin to say all the people. Among them are 
Jascha Heifetz, [Efrem] Zimbalist, Mischa Elman, Toscha Seidel, 
Mischel Piastro and Jose Knitzer, Kathleen Parlow, one of the 
greatest women violinists, and Barbara Lull Rahm. 

Barbara Lull Rahm I put the Lull in there because I went 
with her to a master class conducted by Henri Temianka. She was 
going to play for him and he would coach her. We went over 
together. A couple of other violinists played first. Then she 
got up, put her music on the rack and started to play. He saw the 
name Barbara Lull. He said, "What s that music doing here?" 

She said, "That s mine." 

He looked and he said, "You aren t Barbara Lull?" 

She said, "Yes." 

He said, "You should be giving this class, not me." Then 
he turned to the audience and said, "I can remember time after 
time in New York, the theater having her name in great big letters 
like this across. Barbara Lull." 

She was a very great musician and soloist. She married a 
mathematics professor at Princeton. She had two lovely sons, but 
evidently it was not a happy marriage. When it broke up she 
practically had a breakdown. It was at that time that Roger Sessions, 
who knew what a magnificent musician she was, took her in hand and 
told her to come on out to Berkeley. That s the reason she did. 


Rowell: We were very dear, close friends. It was always a pleasure to 
be with her and to play with her. She died about three or four 
years ago from a terrific cancer which she d had for a long time, 
I ve never seen anybody combat it and go through it the way she 
did. She was an inspiration to me the whole time. 

Riess: Did she teach while she was here? 

Rowell: Teach? Oh, yes. She had excellent students. 

Teaching Teachers of Cello 

Riess: Everyone teaches, don t they? 

Rowell: It s interesting. You know, I m awfully glad you bring that up. 
When I went to San Francisco State I went there specifically 
because I was so interested in teaching. I thought I would teach 
the teachers, I mean the cellists coming in who were going out, 
basically, to teach public school which was taught so poorly. They 
didn t want me to do anything of the kind. They didn t want me to 
do a thing except teach their students how to play solos. They 
didn t want any of the teaching angle of it at all. I couldn t 
understand it. I finally gave a course and had the public school 
teachers come in, after school, and I just gave it to them. I 
thought it was terrible not to reach them. 

At the [San Francisco] Conservatory for all these years it 
has been the same thing. They get absolutely nothing on teaching. 
You go to a conservatory and you graduate. The thing you have to 
have to graduate is four concertos under your belt and a whole 
lot of sonatas, and that type of thing. But nothing of teaching. 

Irene Sharp and I got so disturbed about that five or six 
years ago, that we asked if we could give a course. We gave just 
a six week course, one evening a week, and had a wonderful time 
doing it. Thank goodness it did bring in the people from the 
outside. I remember one gentleman who came down from near Fresno 
every week to attend the class. I am now getting his pupils back 
and they are very good. 

We did teach a course for conservatory students. They got 
less out of it because they weren t quite prepared for it. But 
every year we were saying, "We must do that again," because it 
really was a good course. What we did was, we took a six-year-old, 
who had never had a cello lesson in her life and never seen a 


Rowell: cello. The first evening we put that cello in her hands and 

actually started her in front of the class. We did ask one of 
the students in the class to go over with her during the week 
what we had given in the class meet her once during the week 
and give her that. 

We did that for the six weeks and she blossomed. (I ve 
forgotten which one of the Eastern conservatories she s at right 
now.) By the end of those six weeks she was playing a Vivaldi 
sonata absolutely in tune, with good quality, not just in first 
position as we like to call it but with a knowledge of her 
instrument. I think everybody in the course was surprised because 
she had not had a cello in her hands until the beginning of that 
course. And I think the teachers who had been teaching were the 
ones who benefitted the most from that course. 

Riess: When you say that the pupils at the conservatory weren t ready, 
do you mean that they weren t ready to accept the fact that they 
were going to be teachers and not soloists? 

Rowell: No, I don t mean that. 1 mean that, until you have taught, you 
don t lay emphasis upon that starting which is so important. It 
would be as if you haven t had children and you read about childbirth, 
it doesn t mean much to you until you actually have either seen 
it or experienced it, or know something about what it is. 

I think it s the same with I call it the birth of a cellist. 
I think it s a very important I won t call it traumatic 
experience that can be a very wonderful one, or a very sad one for 
a child. I think a child can expect to think they re going to 
enjoy the instrument, and then have such a technically rough 
beginning that they aren t as interested as they thought they were 
going to be. To have them love it at the very beginning is so 
important . 

Riess: Is that a reasonable age to begin, six? 

Rowell: A very wonderful age. I didn t used to begin that age. I always 
chose the age nine as being just about right, because they could 
have a large instrument at that time. I d never started them on 
the smaller instruments, basically because I wanted them to have 
at least a year of piano first. When they had piano I felt they 
could do better. 


Mr. Suzuki Visits 

Rowell ; 

Rowell : 


Rowell : 

Rowell : 

Rowell : 


Rowell : 

But I changed my idea on that. Mr- Shinichi Suzuki is one who helped 
me change it. For the violin he starts them young. It s wonderful 
to start them young on the cello. They have cellos down now to 
eighth and sixteenth size. Little tiny things. I had a seven-year- 
old cellist here last night and kept him for over an hour. He was 
just adorable. Did I tell you about him yet? 

Well, you said that he d been brought by his teacher. 

I thought it was awfully nice of his teacher to want me to see 
him and to give him a lesson. He played very well, all over the 
instrument . 

Eighth and sixteenth size means what? 
size of normal. 

It can t be l/16th of the 

Oh, yes. My cello is about that long [gestures]. This cello is 
about that long [gestures]. They re little, tiny things just about 
this high. They have to sit in little, tiny chairs. 

How amazing! It really works? 

Yes. They didn t used to make tiny instruments like that. I 
never saw them when I was taking. Half size and three-quarter 
size, yes, but I never saw an eighth or a sixteenth when I was 
young. They make them a great deal now in both Japan and China, 
since they are such centers for string music. 

But the students still have that feeling of wrapping their arms 
around the instrument? 

Exactly the same. The beginning is exactly the same. The whole 
thing is the same. 

When did you first come into contact with the Suzuki method? 
You ve mentioned Mr. Suzuki before, with some reverence. I d like 
to hear more. 

I should say so. He really did create something. When a person 
is idolized, there is always the opposite. So there were these 
two, pro and con Suzuki. I grew up right in the midst of it. 

In the midst of two groups? 

A great antagonism and a great love. These two things. 


Rowell : I heard that he was coming. Our American String Teachers Association, 
which has done so much for me, was having a meeting in San Mateo 
and he was coming. That s all we knew, that he was coming. Nobody 
had heard him or heard his children. I went over there. These 
little tiny kids, five and six, running around with those little, 
tiny violin cases of course, these were all violinists they 
were so happy, running and running, and then very seriously started 
to play. He was with them. I had never seen anything like it in 
my life. They had such a good time. 

He had done in Japan with the violin what I had done over 
here with the cello, and that was to teach through body movement 
the body was the center without their realizing it in any way. 
For instance, he would have them bend their knees while they played. 
He would have them hold the violin with a very easy neck so that 
they had both hands free. The way they did that was to do a folk 
dance, practically, or hold the other person s hand. Instead of 
having all those tight grabbed hands, their hands were free. I 
still have loads of Suzuki exercises that I do for the cello. 

Those young children played really magnificently. Not just 
good. They were magnificent. They had vibrato and quality of 
tone, could play beautiful music and play it well. Of course, he 
had chosen extra fine ones, but he believes in starting everybody. 
He is one, like myself, who does not try them out ahead of time. 
He believes in training each child to their capacity, and he really 
believes that every child could learn to play the violin. 

Riess: These were Japanese pupils? 
Rowell: Yes. 

Suzuki Workshop, Illinois 

Riess: And this was his first visit to this country? 

Rowell: His first visit to this region. I had heard of him before this and 

had been very much taken with the whole idea of it. But going over 

and seeing him, I can t tell you, it was one of the biggest 
experiences of my whole life. 

I got my husband excited about it, too, because this was 
teaching and education, which fascinated him. The next year we 
went to my husband s fiftieth reunion at the University of Chicago, 
and then went on down to Illinois, where Mr. Suzuki was giving one 
of his very first real workshops in the United States for teachers. 
That was an experience for me. 


Rowell: Mr. Paul Holland was in charge of that. I had no idea that summer 
that I would be working with him from then on, forever, doing all 
the cello counterpart of what he was doing. At that time Paul 
Rolland was taking a movie of these Japanese Suzuki violinists. 
That movie is still being shown every place. 

Riess: Did Mr. Suzuki speak English? 

Rowell: Almost no English at all the first few years. He always had a 
translator. Now, of course, he speaks English quite well. 

Riess: When he spoke in San Mateo, did he talk about what he was doing, 
about the body stuff? 

Rowell: You saw what he did. I hate to call it the body, because what he 
was doing was having them have one heck of a good time, with the 
feeling that they were dancing and enjoying everything at the same 
time, shaking hands with somebody and doing this and that. 

Riess: But what did he actually say about what he was doing? 

Rowell: Well, he didn t say because it was all demonstration. I don t 

want to take too much time out for this, but let me just say that 
Mr. Suzuki s own background is a fascinating one. He grew up in 
Japan and became fascinated with the violin. People found out 
that he was and sent him to Germany to study , so he was European- 
trained, by the very best violin teachers in Germany. He had 
that type of a background, very different from most people, and he 
came back as an accomplished violinist. 

He married a German wife. She is still right there with him 
all the time. She did a great deal of the translating because she 
spoke English. During the war they were separated, and he almost 
died from starvation, illness, from everything, and was in bed for 
years. It was during that time that he got the whole idea of how to 
start children, that you should start them, as he would say, just 
like learning a language. 

He believes in a great deal of repetition, more so even than 
I do. But he says that they should learn the same way, that you 
start a child young to learn a language; you give them something 
and they repeat it over and over, and enjoy it. The way a child 
learns a language is the way he teaches the violin. His great 
thing is to teach with a great deal of love, and great joy, and 
he does do that. 

The American String Teachers took the idea immediately in 
hand, teaching it in a class formation. That is not his way. He 
has a class, but if he does he takes every student privately in it. 


Rowell: It is always a one to one thing. If they come clear across the 

city with their mother and have waited in line to play, then they 
are discouraged or would not be happy and maybe play one minute 
and not want to play more, he never would encourage them to play 
more, that s it for that day. But they hear the other children 
around them playing and they see what it s all about. 

I ve seen this happen so often. After they ve gotten through 
playing they 11 go over in a corner and two kids will start playing 
the same thing together. He has them all learning the same little 
folk songs all the time. 

Riess: But it s called individual? 

Rowell: The instruction is individual. So, when he gets them together it s 
I don t know how many thousand. I have a picture of them playing 
together over in Japan. This sent the wrong impression through 
the world, that he taught the kids to play in unison. But no. 
They come together at certain times of the year over there I think 
it s much more than a thousand violinists because they ve all 
learned the same melodies with the same fingering and everything 
else. It s just as you would learn how to speak a word in the 
English language, and can come together and say those sentences 
together because you ve memorized them. He s a marvelous philosopher. 

After that summer I came back and was so excited about having 
him. I said, "You just have to have him at San Francisco State, 
that s all there is to it." I got them all excited there. 
Dr. [Walter] Haderer went right up to Seattle, Washington, which 
was the last place he was to be before he flew home, and heard 
him there and he came back as excited as I was. So, we both had 
him come to San Francisco State the next year and give a two week 
workshop which was a long one for him, it s usually a few days. 

We had the two week workshop and it turned out very well. 
(I have the announcement. I ll try to get it out.) What they 
insisted on, which rather horrified me, was that Mr. Suzuki take 
the morning session with all the violinists and they came from 
Los Angeles and all over and I take the afternoon session and 
turn what he had said in the morning over to the cello in the 

I had loads of fun doing that. I listened carefully in the 
morning. I showed that you did exactly the same things on the 
cello that he had done on the violin. I think this helped people 
a great deal. I wasn t prepared for it that way. I mean, I had 
to wait and see what he was going to say and then turn it over. 


Rowell: I had my own young students come at that time and illustrate in 
the afternoon. It was very easy for them to illustrate just 
exactly what Mr. Suzuki had done in the morning. It wasn t that 
I was copying what he did. It was, I would say, that we had the 
same basic principles. And because we had the same basic principles, 
our teaching was so much alike. We were teaching from inside out. 

When it came to the end, he always has this last evening when 
he has a great big concert. He has even the little ones all 
playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." 

He said, "Oh, you have to have your students on it, too." 
I said, "Oh, no. The main thing is violin, not cello." 
"You have to." 

So, I called up all my students about fifteen of them and 
got them over there. They gave quite a part of the program that 
night. I had them do some things in unison, together. They did 
them beautifully. Everybody was quite taken with them. 

Irene Sharp was one of them at that time. It was that long 
ago that she was still studying with me. (Little did I know what 
a magnificent teacher she would turn out to be. I think she s one 
of the finest teachers in the whole country.) 

Riess: I m going to stop you and ask a few questions about all of this. 

First of all, did it strike you that he had gone through the 
same experience of an illness, and having to start again? 

Rowell: Yes. Very much. It struck me completely, and that it was while he 
was lying in bed wondering whether he was ever going to do anything 
again, that he devised his whole program. This struck me always, 
and we had that very much in common. 

I enjoyed him so much that summer. The last evening, when 
we were having dinner in a private home there, I was sitting on 
a piano stool. He came over and edged on the piano stool and sat 
next to me. He finally said, "You know, in the next world I want 
to take up the cello." I thought that was lovely. He loved the 
cello very much. 

Riess: The string teachers association immediately took to him? Or were 
there two camps? 


Rowell: There were not two camps. I don t think so. I think the music 
teachers association saw what he had to give, which was so 
authentic, that they just, all over this country, took him. He 
would come and give workshops all over. He still comes every 
summer and gives a big concert in Philadelphia. 

It s interesting to me because, I don t know how many years 
ago, I became interested in the Institute for Human Potential. 
It s centered in Philadelphia. Dr. Glen Homan is the head of it. 
They take the brain injured children and work and work with them. 
They have had a simply marvelous success. They bring them in in 
their mothers arms at five years old, unable to walk or do 
anything, and they do teach them. This is by going step by step, 
knowing exactly what you re doing. Going very slowly with them and 
re-teaching them from the very beginning how to use a muscle, how 
to use things. 

Anyway, I was so excited by this way, way back, never thinking 
of Suzuki with it, but merely doing this with these basically 
brain injured children who had such great deficiencies. I remember 
when one of them, who couldn t walk or do anything, finally, after 
years I belonged to it that long became an Eagle Scout. They 
sent out a letter to everybody: "So-and-so has become an Eagle 

I have a lovely letter from Dr. Homan, telling me to come any 
time to Philadelphia to see them. He was so interested in what I 
wrote about being interested. I never dreamed of Mr. Suzuki over 
in Japan and Dr. Homan getting together, but they got together. 
Mr. Suzuki is on the board and comes with all his children once a 
year and gives a big concert in Philadelphia. So the doctor, 
with his background, and Suzuki, with his musical link, absolutely 
think as one, which is fascinating. 

Suzuki Pro and Con 

Riess: Who was against the Suzuki method? 

Rowell: The people who are against Suzuki there are plenty of them. 

Isaac Stern is one who came out very much against it. They feel 
that it is repetition, because he considers it, at the early stage, 
like learning a language, as I ve said. 

A baby will go, "ma -ma -ma -ma ," or "ball-ball-ball," you know. 
He gets the word in his mouth, and loves that repetition, but an 
adult does not do that. 


Rowell: Many, many of the concert musicians and conservatory-trained 

musicians have been very much against Suzuki in the past because 
he does not teach them to read. He teaches them by ear how to do 
everything, by ear and by sight. 

His whole idea is that before the child takes lessons, the 
mother takes lessons no matter if she doesn t know a thing about 
the violin and the child sees her working at it. This is not so 
she ll play the violin, but so she ll understand the principles of 
it. She has to attend every lesson, and she has to oversee everything 
at home . 

A three year old is his pet age for starting. He doesn t 
allow them to keep the child at it longer than they enjoy it, but 
maybe come to it several times a day. She [the mother] and the 
family help the child at home to be excited about it and to love it. 
She knows, by going to the lessons, and by having held a violin 
and tried to play it herself, what it s about. 

It is the ear he is training. He trains the ear first in all 
these folk songs to play absolutely in tune. Every detail is step 
by step by as slow a step possible that he teaches. Then by the 
time they re six and they ve had three years of instruction is when 
they start the A-Minor Vivaldi concerto, and they put up the music 
and begin to read. That s at six years of age, just about the time 
they would begin learning to read at school. 

Here we start it in the fourth and fifth grades. The children 
already know how to read here , so there is not that thing of 
starting them entirely with their ear, as you can see. The 
objection has been that, by starting them that way [Suzuki s way] 
for several years, you put them in an orchestra and they don t 
know how to read at all. 

I had a hard time because I love Mr. Suzuki and I believe in 
his principles. And yet, I have to have a child who can read 
what s out there because I don t think my ear is as beautifully 
trained as a Suzuki ear to be able to tell with every single folk 
song without making a mistake. Do you see what I mean? 

Riess: Yes. 

Rowell: I believe in the two together so much. 

This is where Paul Rolland came in. He s the one who brought 
Mr. Suzuki over to this first workshop. He was so_ taken by him 
and his principles. But he saw that it didn t fit into the American 


Rowell: system because we don t start that until at least the third or 

fourth grade in public school. So, that s where he came in with 
his idea of starting them at that age, partly by ear partly by 
reading with all this dancing and doing everything else at the 
same time and making the music come through through them, and yet, 
getting them to read the simplest things at that time, both with 
and without the music. 

Writing Prelude to String Playing, with Paul Rolland 

Rowell: That s where I came in. He heard me give a demonstration up in 

Seattle, Washington. I didn t sleep a wink the night before. I had 
a terribly bad cold and could hardly talk. But I got up there. I 
took four of my boys with me. They were eleven and twelve years 
old. They illustrated absolutely everything for me, all my one- 
fingered scales, things up in four octaves, and every single kind 
of thing. The four boys ended by playing the first movement of the 
Haydn C-Major Concerto in unison, even the cadenzas. They did a 
beautiful job of it. 

I had no idea that Paul Rolland was sitting in the audience. 
I came home from Seattle with a 104 temperature and went to bed. 
I don t know how many days later it was that he called me, said 
that he had heard me and he wanted me to write the books with him. 
I said, "Oh, no. I m already under agreement to write one with 
people at the University of Southern California." Finally, those 
two publishers got it so that I could do both since one was on a 
college level and the other on the beginning level. 

Riess: What are the books? 

Rowell: Well, the book I did with Paul Rolland, he gets most of the credit 
for, which is the way it always is, and I m glad he does. I think 
he s a wonderful person. It s called Prelude to String Playing 
[Boosey & Hawkes, Publishers, 1972]. 

Riess: It s your theory written up? 

Rowell: Well, it s a great deal my theory. I was excited about it. 

The last American String Teacher magazine that I had here 
said that Paul Rolland was probably the greatest violin teacher 
that this country has ever had. 


Rowell: He lived in Illinois. He was the head of this whole [string 

teaching] project for the University of Illinois. I lived out 
here. We never saw each other until I had it all completed. He 
would send me stuff. I took the whole summer off, which I d 
never done, to write it. I had Galen come up and take photographs 
of cellists playing to illustrate everything. I spent the whole 
summer working on it, and then sent it back to him. 

I should have known more, but I didn t. He said, "Why, 
Margaret, this isn t the way it should be. You are using words 
that are too big. Remember you are writing this book for the 
student. " 


I thought I was writing it for the teacher! I was giving 
instructions for the teacher all the time, while he wanted it to 
be used by the student. This was very, very different. So I had 
to go completely over it. 

For instance, I talked about a buoyant arm and he said no child 
would know what a buoyant arm is. So I had to change it to a 
floating arm, or something like that. Any word that I would use 
that I thought was a good word to use, he said, "Oh, no. We have 
to change that." Even the whole concept had to be changed. 

Did you agree with his concept of writing this book for the 
student, anyway? 

Rowell: Well, it wasn t whether I agreed with him, it was what I had to do. 

I think the book is used almost entirely by teachers; I think 

it s a teacher s book instead of a student s. It spoiled the book 

for me. I have never enjoyed the book. I always say, wherever I 

go, "I m not happy with it at all." 

The other thing was , I knew very little about the photographing 
for it. Galen spent ages doing it. He would take many pictures, 
and I would select the one I wanted. Somebody said, "I know all 
about how to do this." We carefully cut out the little negative 
and put it next to the picture, and in doing it I think we spoiled 
half the negatives. Also, he [Paul Rolland] said, "We can t 
handle them that way. They should be on a line of progress and 
you should say, Number four, number five. " So, I made it harder 
for them rather than easier. I m not at all happy with the way 
the pictures turned out in the book. 

There are many things. My book had to follow exactly the 
violin book. Where I took up a thing on the left hand side of the 
page , it had to be exactly at the same time on the same page that 


Rowell : he took it up for the violin. It constricted me very much, 

especially since I have them go into other positions sooner. We, 
with our larger instrument, can get fewer notes under the hand 
at one time. Of course, the double bass can t get as much as we 
can under his hand, and he has to shift oftener. The modern 
approach makes fluid shifting a necessity, and we start early 
to give them what I call a "fluid shift." 

Anyway, there were many details that didn t fit the picture, 
to me. It wasn t the way I would love to have started it. It 
didn t have the overall thing at the beginning. But, at the same 
time, his ideas and my ideas were the same. It s the different 
mediums of working. Violin and cello have so much in common. It 
would be like brother and sister, and yet there are anatomical 
differences. I never thought of putting it that way, but that s 
the way it is. They re very important and you just have to 
acknowledge them. 

Riess: Is the book still used? 

Rowell: Yes. Where I was last summer quite a number of the people had it. 
I ve used it very little myself. 

RiessL Do you receive royalties from it? 

Rowell: Very little. I do. But I never felt that it was my book. Paul 
Rolland got most of the royalty. 

I might say that writing the preface had a strange history. 
He had a wonderful preface to his book, in which he explained how 
the left page had to do with the left hand, and the right side of 
every page had to do with the right hand. He told me to write a 
preface to my book, which I did. I said, "I ll write a preface 
and you put in your preface so they 11 know how to handle the 
book." He said, "Oh, yes." But when the book came out it just had 
my preface and not his. So they don t know that the left hand 
side has to be for the left hand and the right side for the right 
hand or any of his valuable information of how to use the book. 

Operation and Recuperation 

Rowell: I had a hard time getting that preface off. As I say, I didn t 

know it was going to be there, I thought his would be the only one. 
In the meantime, I was teaching at Stanford, a little bit at UC, 
and at the San Francisco Conservatory. Also, I wasn t as well as 
I thought I should be. I d lost a lot of weight, over a period of 


Rowell: I went down to the doctor. It had been lots of time since I d 

seen him. They took a sample, came back with the bottle and said, 

"Look here. You stop teaching right now. You ve got cancer of 

the colon and you have to have an operation immediately." I think 
I took about five days off to prepare for it. My friends were all 

utterly shocked. I went right in and had the operation at Kaiser 
Hospital in Oakland. 

It was right at that time that Rolland had to have the preface. 
They all laughed at me, but I sat up in bed the second day after 
my operation and began writing the preface. I think it was the 
third day I finally finished it, had somebody type it, and had it 
sent. So, that s the way the preface got written. 

Some of the rest of it I finished writing while I was in the 
hospital. They only keep you two weeks in the hospital for something 
like that. My husband then was in a convalescent hospital. I didn t 
let him know about the operation. (Well, he wouldn t have known 
about it. He wasn t capable of knowing about it at that time.) But 
I couldn t see coming home to my house here alone. So I conceived, 
while I was in the hospital, the idea of going out to his 
convalescent hospital, which was mainly for the aged people who had 
some senility. 

I told them I would like to come on out. They moved the man 
out of the room that he was in and I moved out there and spent two 
fine weeks there with my husband! I was able to be up and around. 
I wheeled him into his meals and we had meals together in the dining 

Of course, everybody under the sun came to see me, from some 
distances and so on. It was just an open house. My room was 
filled with flowers. I had a wonderful time out there, so by the 
time I got home I was really on the road to recovery. I look back 
on it not as a bad experience at all, except that [but for it] 
I think I would have done a better job, perhaps, on the book. 

When I was out there I sent in the final corrections to 
everything. Paul Rolland had left for Europe and had told me 
where to send them to, at the University of Illinois. I gave them 
to a student to mail for me. I never knew, but she didn t put 
them in a mailbox, and they never got there. So they never had 
the corrections. [laughter] It wasn t a trash can. It was a 
bank deposit, something like that, that she put them in. You would 
have thought they would have sent it on, but they didn t. 


The "Basic Points" 

Riess: Were there some satisfactions from doing it? 

Rowell: I think it was after that that I had to give quite a number of 

talks and I think that they helped me, finally, in coming down to 
getting my basic principles, which is the way I like to start 
rather than the way the book does. 

Riess: Is there a body of cello teachers who don t like your method, in 
the same way that Suzuki s methods were objected to? 

Rowell: Oh [laughter] I m sure there are. The only thing is, Thank God I 
don t have to know them! They don t have to interfere with me in 
any way. American String Teacher, for instance, was good enough to 
name me the "Outstanding Teacher of the Year" for the United States 
in 1977. Basically, as a teaching method I think it would be the 
solo performer in teaching and there are many very fine ones who 
might disagree. I m sure people disagree with it, but that doesn t 
bother me. 

I have not had teachers disagree with it, basically. I think 
some might disagree, if they hadn t actually seen me doing it and 
seen the results of starting them by what I call my basic principles. 

Riess: Which are? 

Rowell: First, the whole before the parts. That s where I was different 

from Mr. Suzuki. He starts building segment by segment by segment, 
very, very slowly. Which is marvelous. The people he starts are 
very firm, very solid. The violinists that he starts in Japan come 
right over to Juilliard and enter Juilliard and those other 
conservatories and then go over [to Europe] . They say there are 
more Japanese concert masters and mistresses in Europe than any other 
nationality, practically. When they come from our conservatories 
we take it for granted that they are American. But they ve had that 
other foundation, Korean and Japanese, which is basically Suzuki- 

The cello is such a big, almost cumbersome instrument and we 
get scared of those upper registers. We think they re far away when 
we start. I did. I can divide in half the people who started 
with what would be the method I use I m not alone in it where 
I have them doing what I call the siren, even though I have them 
use a tremolo bow and go up and down every string, with their arm 
leading their hand, and getting all over their instrument. They 
aren t playing out of tune because they aren t playing any one note, 


Rowell: but just getting a tremolo effect, up and down, all over, feeling 
and hearing their instrument in the highest register. So their 
arms are used to going there rather than being right in first 
position where, on the cello, we re likely to have a stuff upper 
arm without even knowing it . 

On the violin you have it right within and your arm reach [sic] 
the whole distance anyway by having that peculiar hold with the 
elbow under. People think this is an awkward hold. It isn t at 
all, on the violin. The elbow turned is one of the most basic 
marvelous things. I wish every cellist were able to turn his elbow 
right from the beginning the way a violinist does. Many of them 
just keep it out straight and just use their forearm in playing, 
which they don t realize they re doing, and tighten up that upper 
arm, or at least do not use it as flexibly as the violinist always 
does. They can t play without a flexible elbow. 

Riess: So the "whole" for you is the whole instrument? 

Rowell: The whole instrument. I have all my students come, no matter how 

advanced , and run up and down their instruments completely on every 
string before they start to play each day. 

Then, second, I think getting the overtones first in the child s 
mind is important, so that they hear the actual vibrations of the 
instrument and of the tone, to get in tune from the very beginning. 
It isn t where you put your fingers. It s that you put your fingers 
with exactly the right feel so that you get the right intonation 
the exact centering of the tone that will produce the overtones. 
Because every instrument is built on that overtone series. 

Riess: Is that a point where you discover that some of your students are 
tone deaf, or is there no such thing? 

Rowell: There s no such thing as tone deaf. I ve spent ages and ages trying 
to get them to hear. There is as much gradation in hearing as 
there is in seeing. It isn t how well you hear. Beethoven was 
deaf , and yet, he had to hear every single note before he could 
compose. What did he hear with? It s that inner ear that is doing 
the hearing. I can t ever get over that difference of the inner 
ear being the thing that we re training entirely. Just as the 
inner eye is the eye of the artists. People with 20/20 vision 
aren t necessarily the greatest painters. Monet started going blind 
so early. All those wonderful water lily things were done as he 
was going blind. So many of the great artists did not have good 
eyesight. Van Gogh is another one. It s that inner eye and that 
inner ear that is the artist s home. 


Riess: There is something troubling about Suzuki. It s just too intense, 
to start at three years old. What if they fail? 

Rowell: They don t have to continue with it. I think he sees to it that 
the mother does not try to make him play. As I ve seen with him, 
if the child isn t interested you simply don t teach him at that 
time. That s all there is to it. The child has to show interest. 
You cannot manufacture that. That s the reason for the child going 
and sitting and seeing the mother take lessons first. If the child 
at that point doesn t want to grab a violin and play, then you 
don t start him. 

Cooperation from a Student s Parents 

Riess: How about you and pushy or ambitious mothers? 
with the mothers? 

How have you dealt 

Rowell: I have dealt with them, yes. That s a good question. I very 

seldom have had it. I ve had such cooperation from parents, I can t 
tell you what a joy it has been. 

Riess: Cooperation in letting the child stop, also? 

Rowell: Stop? They almost never stop. I don t have people stop taking 
cello. The first question I ever ask them I asked this little 
seven-year-old yesterday. I said, "Do you really love that cello?" 
He said, "Oh, yes." His face just beamed. I would never teach a 
person for one week who didn t love the cello. It would be 

Riess: How is it that there are so many children taking piano lessons under 
duress? They just clomp through their piano lessons. 

Rowell: I can t tell you that. 

Riess: I should have thought that the same thing would be happening with 
string instruments with cellos and with parents who get it in 
their mind. 

Rowell: I don t know. It may happen. I think it has happened. I remember 
Eudice Shapiro, one of the fine violinists of our country. We 
were together one summer, teaching. We had an apartment together 
and I got to know her. She said she just hated her father when she 
was young because he was a violinist and he made her practice. She 
just hated it and him. Now she says, "I love him and can t thank 
him enough, and he knows it." 


Rowell : 


Rowell : 

Rowell ; 



Rowell : 


That, to me, was a revelation. I hadn t run into that. I think 
that that happens more with violin, and more in Europe, than here 
where the parent there says, "You re going to learn this." 

What kind of experience did you have with having to separate the 
mothers from the students? You know. Help the mothers back off or 
something like that? 

I haven t ever had that trouble. I have taken students from other 
teachers where the difficulty has been entirely the mother. I 
have had the mother come and sit through the lessons here and I ve 
never had any trouble. I can say that. I can think of two very 
definite things right now where the other people said they had so 
much trouble with the mother interfering, wanting too much, this 
and that and the other thing. I just let the mother sit there, if 
she wants to. I talk to her sometimes. I consider her a very 
important human being. I ve never, ever run into any difficulty 
with any parent. 

Interesting. Irene Sharp teaches the same way that you do? 

Yes. Well, I think she teaches better. [laughter] She has 
absolute pitch and she has that wonderful sense of intonation. 
She didn t used to teach as well as she teaches now. She teaches 
absolutely beautifully. 

And she articulates her teaching methods in the same way that you 

Well, we teach together so much. Every place that we can get to 
teach together we do, all the European classes and workshops, and 
most in this country. I would say that I don t think there s any 

point on which we differ, 
been my right hand. 

I don t think there could be. She s 

You were talking about your first principles. 

Hold the phone just a minute, as they say, and I ll get it for 

[break in tape] 

Okay. So you ll put your six basic principles of teaching into 
this later and we won t go through it. 

Rowell: Yes. 



Roger Sessions, and John Sessions^// 

Riess: When you mentioned Roger Sessions that reminded me of the interesting 
people that were associated with the music department at the 
university in the thirties and forties. 

Rowell: I mentioned that Roger came up and listened to his son take all 
those lessons, didn t I? 

Riess: No. 

Rowell: Roger Sessions came to Berkeley [1945-1951]. I knew that he was 
coming. It was quite a while, it seemed to me, before I met him. 
Then, when I heard that he had a son who was studying cello I was 
very interested. Very soon they brought him to me and we had a 
wonderful time together. Roger always brought him to his lessons, 
sat in that chair there, and listened to almost all the lessons 
very attentively. I enjoyed both of them very much. 

John had a very good ear. He had such a good ear that he 
fooled me because he could remember anything that he had heard , 
practically, and didn t have to practice it because he heard it. 
Therefore, he did not read music as well as I thought he did. I 
would go over it very carefully at the lesson and he would remember 
it rather than reading his music. But he would make mistakes and 
then he would get furious. It took me a long while to realize 
that he wasn t reading music as well as he should. He played with 
a very beautiful quality. 

Riess: Did he go on with it? 

Rowell: Yes. He gave it up for a while to play tennis. He and Stravinsky s 

son, or Schoenberg s son, became very good friends down in Los Angeles 
after they moved away from here. I think they were great tennis 


Rowell: players. He was in the Washington, D.C. Symphony the last I 

heard from him. He s married. I hear from his father every once 
in a while. He s doing very well with his cello. 

Riess: Do you think music really does run in the family? 

Rowell: Of course I do. I used to think that with education we could 
learn anything. 

Riess: Yes. Your Dewey exposure. 

Rowell: But I do believe very definitely that we can learn music, as I m 
always saying, up to our capacity. Everybody can learn it, just 
as everybody can learn to talk. 

As I said earlier, the thing that I can t stand is to say that 
you shouldn t study music because you aren t going to become a 
performer. This is what I found back at the Rostropovich National 
Congress in Washington, D.C. Those professional musicians thought 
that people shouldn t be studying music if they weren t going to 
be a professional. Where was there going to be room for all these 

This got me. I was talking with somebody yesterday who was 
saying how many doctors are so musical. There is a doctors symphony 
in San Francisco. When you have the number of doctors who play 
the violin, who play cello, who play other instruments, I love 
to see them do it. They get such pleasure out of it and they can 
be very fine players. 

Riess: I have a list that I had taken from a history of the 

epartment. It mentions some of the people who had been at some 
point involved with the department. I am sure many of them are 
people that you would have had contact with. 

Rowell: Not necessarily. I did very little with UC. 

Charles Gushing, David Boyden, Marjorie Petray, and Ernest Bloch 

Riess: Charles Gushing. 

Rowell: Charles Gushing I first knew when he was in short pants, in high 
school, a little boy, and very much of a precocious musician. He 
wanted everybody to know that he was a musician. He went for one 
year, I believe, to France, and instead of this little boy in these 
knee trousers, he came back with a full beard, as I remember. He 


Rowell: seemed so dignified, but I still remember him as that little, tiny 
kid. I knew him all his life, and his wife and children. A lovely 
family. In fact, his daughter was one of Galen s friends in school. 

Riess: And David Boyden? Where did you first meet him? 

Rowell: I didn t know David until I was married, but that s over forty-six 

years now. We ve known each other through the years and kept close. 
I find every place I go, in England particularly, David is so well 
known for the wonderful book he wrote on the violin. I always 
come back with messages for David Boyden wherever I am. 

Riess: Marjorie Petray? 

Rowell: She was beautiful. She went to the same church we did. One of her 
sons was in my sister s Sunday School class. Marjorie Petray was 
such a fine pianist. I knew her when she was young, long before 
she was recognized. I adored her. I can still see her in a red 
evening dress, playing. I followed her through her whole life. 

Riess: Ernest Bloch? [Bloch first taught at Berkeley, spring 1941] 

Rowell: Oh. Ernest Bloch! You re on a very touchy point there. If there s 
any composer who loved the cello and knew how to compose for the 
cello, and did compose for the cello, it was Bloch! I can t tell 
you ! Here I was , married , and he was teaching at UC and I never 
went down. I never even sat in on one lecture that he gave. My 
friends did. They all said how wonderful he was, and that he did 
everything all around the subject. He took music whole, if anybody 
ever did. I always heard that. 

My friends talked about him at the conservatory, Ada Clement 
and Lillian Hodgeshead. They were in charge of the San Francisco 
Conservatory and, of course, I was there. They were very dear 
friends of Ernest Bloch. In fact, I think they practically put him 
up over in Marin County. They were always visiting when he would 
go to all his different places. 

I missed out with Bloch entirely, knowing him personally. But, 
oh, the debt that we cellists owe him! I think his "Schelomo," 
written for the cello, is one of the greatest pieces ever written. 
He understands it so completely and he has written that music as 
nobody else has ever written for the cello. All his many short Jewish 
pieces "Prayer" and "Meditation" are just meant for the cello. 

Riess: You didn t get down there because you were newly married? 


Rowell: I think it was when Galen was just a baby and I did so much running 
up and down the hill. I always had to transport everybody. We 
were the highest up on the hill so I drove everybody with a kid, 
between here and nursery school. When Galen was eighteen months 
old he started. And from then on! There were no busses, of course, 
around here. So, the only way to get around was to drive. I 
picked up the other kids and went. I spent a great deal of time 
on that. 

Ed Rowell s Eyesight Fails, Operations 

Rowell: Ed s eyes did begin to go bad on him very early so he didn t like 
to drive. (He taught me to drive, in fact.) A year after we were 
married we first went to Mexico. It was really a remarkable trip. 
It made me know that Ed loved to travel so much. But on the way back 
he was agitated to a certain extent. We did change off driving. 
It was his eyes that were beginning to trouble him. Very soon he 
had to have four different operations on his eyes. Two on glaucoma 
which had completely destroyed one eye. By the time he got out of 
the hospital on one eye, the other eye had begun to go. As soon 
as he was able to he had to go back and have the other glaucoma 
operation, which saved some sight in that. It started after we 
came back from Mexico that year after we were married. 

After that the cataracts began growing. I didn t worry as much 
about them as I should have, because Ed was never one to complain. 
But what happened was that they grew on top of the scars of the 
glaucoma. They really got very bad and he kept going to the doctor 
all the time. One day he said, "I have to go to San Francisco. 
They re having a consultation of doctors." I let him go across on 
the ferry boat all by himself to UC hospital. I met him when he got 
back. Low and behold, they had said that his eyes were very serious, 
he would go completely blind, and there was no chance of an 

That was a stunner to me, completely and totally. It was to 
him, too, of course. But he did the wisest thing anybody ever did. 
He could always think things through. He had already lost the sight 
of one eye completely, and there was just that little bit in the 
other one. He said to his doctor, Dr. Owen Dickson who by the 
way was a beautiful cellist and I knew him long before we were 
married, when he was just a boy "What would you think if you 
operated on the bad eye and saw what the conditions were back behind 
it , and then saw whether you thought you could operate on the good 
eye?" (They had refused to operate on the good eye and spoil it.) 


Rowell: So, that s what they did. That cataract operation in those days 

was so different from today. I think I suffered more through that 
than I have through anything I ve ever been through myself, including 
my cancer operation and my TB. With the cataract you had to be sure 
that he never moved his head from one side to the other, twenty-four 
hours a day for I think he was in the hospital about two weeks 
before he could come home. That was the hardest thing. I had 
special nurses for him for twelve of the twenty-four hours. I 
tried to take the other twelve. Of course, I was trying to manage 
Galen at home and a little bit of teaching. Those twelve hours I 
did with Ed, trying to keep that head in place, were really something! 
I was completely exhausted and run down from that experience. 

Riess: You were actually holding him so that he wouldn t move? 

Rowell: You kept those two pillows on each side they were more than pillows; 
they were hard against there. If you saw him beginning to move 
you would jump. He knew how quiet he had to be. But it was while 
he was sleeping that you had to be so careful. 

We got through the first operation fine, which was the one on 
the eye he had already lost. Then came the one on the good eye. 
Even with all our help it began to rupture a little bit, as I 
remember, which was terrible. And he became so ill in the middle 
of one night there. I think it was the exertion of everything. 
His whole stomach began to be completely distended. He was in such 
agony that you can t possibly imagine it. By the time we got 
doctors in there they said that it was an extremely serious thing 
and they finally gave him relief . 

One of the things he had to have right then was an enema. The 
orderly walked in, holding that great big enema, the whole tray 
with it. He looked at Ed and said, "Oh, Professor Rowell! I was 
your student ! " 

Ed, deathly sick as he was, said, "Oh, what grade did I give 
you? I hope that I gave you an A?" [laughter] We just howled at 

After he came home from that second one , I wanted to get him 
something on the way home that he could appreciate. He couldn t 
see any flowers, he couldn t read, he couldn t do anything. I 
remembered how much he loved horseradish. He always put horseradish 
on everything. We even laughed one day when he insisted, when we 
had a whole lot of company , on carrying it to the nth degree by 
putting horseradish on his ice cream! That was just for the fun of 


Rowell: So, I stopped the car on Telegraph Avenue and thought, "I m going 
to run in and get him a bottle of horseradish." I went into the 
store really, I can t see how these things happen and they said, 
"No. We don t have any horseradish." Just at that moment the man 
came in delivering things and he was delivering a whole tray of 
horseradish, twelve or twenty-four bottles. 

I said, "Oh, I want one of those." 

He said, "No, I m sorry, I can t spoil the tray." 

I said, "I have to have it." So I bought the whole thing and 
took it out. We had more fun with that horseradish! I think it 
lasted for years and I gave it away to all my friends. That was 
the only way I could get horseradish in a hurry. I didn t want 
to keep Ed waiting in the car. 

That was such a long siege. When he had later operations and 
was in Kaiser for other things, or when I was, and saw people being 
operated on for cateracts and sitting up within two or three days, 
I couldn t believe it. And going home at the end of a week! This 
was such an operation! I thought, when we finally took the 
bandages off, that he would see well, but he didn t. It took so 
long for anything to come back. 

Riess: How old was Galen when all that was going on? 

Rowell: Let me see what year that would have been. Ed retired in 52. 

Galen would have been eleven then. He was probably eight or nine. 

At that time I did take over Ed s classes for him a little 
bit. I remember giving them their examinations and correcting all 
their Blue Books and things for it. 

Riess: His classes at Cal? 

Rowell: Yes. I think I only did it a couple of days gave them assignments 
and did that kind of thing. I would read him the Blue Books, but 
he said, "Oh, you go ahead. I m too tired." Those students don t 
know who they got correcting them. [laughter] But I think I did 
all right. 

Riess: Actually, you told me last week about other travels. He wanted you 
all to go to the East Coast because you had never done that. That 
was after he was unable to see as well? 

Rowell: Yes, but he didn t go with us, you see. 


Rowell : 


Rowell : 


I used to drive to his home in Minnesota almost every summer with 
Galen and himself. At first we used to divide off on driving. 
But the last few times I had to do it on my own. I didn t like 
that long drive at that particular time. He didn t see well 
enough to see the signs. I tried to get Galen to look out for the 
signs. My eyes are not that good at all. I have fairly decent 
glasses for distance now, but for the last few years I haven t 
been able to see street signs. 

And that trip you took to the East Coast with Galen and the frying 
pan? [see p. 210] 

That was just the two of us. At that time, I think I may have 
mentioned, we spent so much time at the different quarries along 
the way. 

Because he was so interested in rocks. 

I liked the way you described cooking in your frying pan. You 
would start out by boiling water for coffee, then you would toast 
the bread, heat the milk, and then you would poach the egg. 

It was great fun! 
for everything. 

I still have the same frying pan and use it 

Other Names from Music Department History 

Riess: Well, I ve certainly taken us off on a tangent. 

Rowell: Don t you want a coffee break? 

Riess: I really prefer to do that at the end. 

Rowell: All right. 

Riess: Winifred Howe? Is that a name you know? 

Rowell: Oh, yes. She was in music. I almost forgot her. I didn t know 
her that well. I don t remember much about her, I m sorry to 
say. Who else have you got? 

Riess: Randall Thompson? 

Rowell: Yes. He was a visiting professor and has done much composing. 


Riess: Arthur Bliss. 

Rowell: Arthur Bliss was lovely. He came from England. He was Sir Arthur 
Bliss after that. 

Two of my very dear friends in the Berkeley Piano Club with 
me, Wanda Krasoff and Margaret Goard, were going to play his 
concerto in San Francisco at one of the big theaters. I ll never 
forget this. They had prepared. They were both beautiful musicians, 
both playing and teaching now. He coached them on the concerto 
after he came. They had been so careful in learning it. He had 
made many tempo changes and he put them all in very specific 
[terms]: 60 to a quarter note, 120 to a quarter note, 148, and 
so on. He had every single thing down right like that. So they 
had been very specific , knowing that he was going to come and coach 
them in it . 

He changed everything. He said, "Oh, I don t mean that like 
that. Just go right from that into here." "Do this, do that." 
He was very free, he wanted it to flow rather than obey specific 
tempo markings. It was a great lesson to me. It came just at the 
right time of my life, just exactly the right time. 

Riess: What was the lesson there? 

Rowell: The lesson was that the composer wants you to play the music. 

He s giving you an indication, but it is not a rule. Even his tempo 
marks are not rules. He made them change their tempos from what 
he had written in there. 

The same thing I found, I think I mentioned, with Roger Sessions. 
I remember when he was playing the Beethoven F-Major Sonata with 
John. It starts with a thirty-second note on the upbeat. Then, 
when it comes to the next time it s a sixteenth note. 

Roger started out with an eighth note at the beginning. I 
said, "Roger, just look at that. That s a thirty-second." He 
said, "I know it is, Margaret, but Beethoven didn t mean it that 
way. That s a mistake." [laughter] I ve never gotten over that, 
but I ve never been able to get anybody else to play it as a 
sixteenth note instead of a thirty-second. 

Colin Hampton, and the Griller Quartet, 1948 

Riess: The last thing on this particular list is the Griller Quartet, 


Rowell: Oh, well of course. The Griller Quartet were absolutely part of 
myself, completely and totally. I think they came here, if I 
remember correctly, on a tour before. We were having dinner. 
Somebody in the department called me, I don t know who, and 
said, "Margaret, can you come down to Wheeler Hall? I want you to 
hear this quartet tonight." I went down and the Griller Quartet 
was playing such as I d never heard before. I thought they were 
the greatest thing I d ever heard. They said, "We re considering 
having them come here for a whole year." I said, "It couldn t 
possibly be better." Surely enough, they did come the next year. 

I really think that, as far as quartets go, that quartet was 
simply remarkable. You may know that they all studied at the Royal 
Academy in London. Colin [Hampton] didn t take up the cello until 
he was fourteen, the same age I was when I started. They were such 
wonderful students together that it was the idea at the conservatory 
over there to put them together as a quartet. 

They became so excited about it, as I remember, the four of 
them lived together in a train car that was vacant, and practiced 
hours and hours a day. When they were still in the conservatory 
there, they became the best known quartet, then, in England. During 
the war they gave all those wonderful concerts, underground. They 
became beloved of all of England. 

When they came here they had such richness of quality. They 
were four beautifully matched players. However, I do think that 
Colin Hampton, the cellist, is the outstanding one of them. I 
think he is one of the greatest quartet cellists who ever lived. 
He s still living right here in Berkeley. 

I thought he had the most beautiful quality. I thought he 
was simply wonderful. Very soon after they moved here my two 
outstanding students at that time were Bonnie Hampton, Bonnie Bell 
at that time, and John Sessions and I got up my courage I didn t 
tell them and I called Colin up and said I d like to bring them down 
to play for him. 


Rowell: They both played very well. I think Bonnie played the Saint-Saens 
concerto, and John played something very beautiful with that clear 
ear that he has. I said to Colin, "Would you like to take them?" 
and he said, "I most certainly would." I ve always been glad I did 

About three or five students I don t know how many I handed 
over to him. They all wanted to go to him. So I lost several of 
my very best students at that time. He never asked me whether I 
wanted the other ones to go or not. That was all right, but I thought, 
"Oh, my sakes, am I ever going to get any good students again?" 
because it does take a long time to build up a good student. 


Rowell: We were very friendly. I adored the whole quartet. I did play 
in a string quartet at that time that took some coaching from 
Sidney Griller himself. 

Colin was looking for places to live. Bonnie Bell s mother 
lived in a great, huge place on Hillegass. She had rooms to rent, 
so she rented a room to Colin Hampton. He was right there to 
teach Bonnie, which he did for years. Of course, I could see it 
coming, that Bonnie was in love with him and he was in love with 
her. I ve forgotten how old she was when she married. They were 
married right in front of my fireplace here, and they were very happy 
for quite a number of years. 

Riess: When the quartet was brought by the university, the expectation was 
that they would be available to students? 

Rowell: Universities had much more then than they have now, and it gave 

a university status to have a quartet or a trio in residence. That s 
very much done in the Eastern universities. The Beaux Arts Trio was 
always associated with a conservatory, I believe. The only way 
they could survive was to have a university pay their salary , and 
UC paid the Grillers a good salary. 

Riess: And what did they do for their salary? 

Rowell: They did a little bit of teaching and some coaching. Of course, they 
were giving concerts all the time. It was before Zellerbach Hall 
was built. It was Hertz Hall mainly. 

I must put this down. I remember with Hertz Hall when they 
called me up and said, "Will you come on down?" They were just 
finishing it and putting those wooden things in at the sides. Those 
are actually moveable, a little bit, and they wanted to be sure 
they got just the right resonance from all those things on the side. 
I loved that . We were listening to a string quartet that night 
I can t tell you who it was when they were trying to adjust the 
sound in Hertz Hall. I think it s a beautiful hall. 

Riess: You say, "They called me down to Hertz." Who s they? 

Rowell: Somebody at the university. Of course, David Boyden was the head 
of it for so long. I think it was he. 

Riess: How would you characterize the music community in Berkeley over 
the years? 

Rowell: It s always been very much a music center. I remember when I was 
young, long before I was married, when I was living in Oakland 
this was when Owen Dickson was playing a lot of cello , it may have 

Rowel 1: 


Rowell : 


Rowell ; 


been before that somebody wanted to locate their son, a cellist 
playing in a quartet, and didn t know where he was that evening. 
They called up somebody but they answered, "Oh, we ve got a quartet 
going but he s not here." So they called up the next person "No, 
we ve got a quartet going here, but he s not here." 

I would say that that was the era of string quartet playing 
in Berkeley. Berkeley was a hothouse of it; it was a center of 
chamber music, and basically string quartets. Sterling Hunkins is 
the name of a very fine cellist here who was in a quartet, who 
went East to become famous. I can t tell you how many cellists 
had played string quartets here and then went on to really become 
very fine musicians. 

This was before we had as many recordings as we have now. 
You didn t spend your time watching TV or listening to recordings. 
You made music in the evening and you made it. 

What group did you play with? You said you were playing with a 
string quartet. 

I ve forgotten whether that was Barbara Lull Rahm. Some of the time 
I was with Beulah Logan. She s still playing. 

I remember playing piano quartets, which would be piano, 
violin, viola and cello. The pianist, Alice Miller, just adored 
the Griller Quartet, is still playing. Last Wednesday I went for 
the first time in years to a Piano Club meeting. There she was. 
I said, "How old are you now?" She is ninety-four. Right there, 
going to it, still playing piano. 

Did you play up here usually? 

No, not here. I usually went out to somebody s house, so as not to 
bother Ed. 

So that would happen about once a week? 


At least? 

Yes. That I would call the "housewives quartet," even though they 
were all members of the Piano Club . 

Riess: Now, more of the notable names: Albert Elkus. 


Rowell: Albert Elkus. He was a dear. He s the one who came before David 

Boyden. After he was at UC he became president of the San Francisco 
Conservatory and was wonderful at that. I think he was simply 
excellent at handling people. He had I hate to use the word 
a sweet disposition, but it really was that. 

He knew more about the Beethoven quartets than anybody I knew, 
so I got him, after he was retired, to come back to the University 
Extension and give a course in Beethoven quartets, which I loved 
to listen to. 

Riess: Was he responsible for getting the money for Hertz Hall? 

Rowell: I don t know. Listen. I don t know anything about money or 

anything about those things. It couldn t interest me less. I have 
no idea. 

String Quartet* 

Riess: Margaret, I want to hear more about string quartets, which ones 
you particularly admired, and followed. 

Rowell: I m just fascinated by the growth of the interest in string 

quartets in this country. I remember the summer before Galen was 
born going to the full series of the Pro Arte Quartet at Mills 
College. They were doing a whole Beethoven series. They came 
out every year from Belgium and stayed the whole summer at Mills 
College. I thought that was wonderful. There were not then the 
visiting quartets, as for instance the University of California has 
had continually during the years. 

The string quartet has developed from something which a few 
professional men did, usually in Europe, to something which every 
young person developing as a violinist, violist, or cellist heads 
toward now. Every conservatory is proud of its string quartets. 
There are string quartet competitions all over the world in this 
era. I feel it is the finest form of instrumental music that there 
is. There is nothing in the brass or woodwind section, in any 
part of the orchestra, that can compare to a string quartet. I 
always loved a trio, but a string quartet is perfection. There s 
just nothing to equal it. 

*[recorded October 24, 1983] 


Rowell: In a trio the piano has a different quality of tone which is the 
opposite it is a percussive instrument, and the strings are not. 
It can blend in its own way, but it s like two opposites. The 
string quartet is an absolute blend of four equal people; usually 
in a trio the pianist tends to give a nod or tends to lead a 
little bit, or else the first violinist does, but a string quartet 
is the complete democracy of playing. It is the perfect unit; there 
are four absolutely equal players, and one takes the lead, then the 
other, they pass it to each other. And they have to be absolutely 
in tune with each other. 

The conservatories devote a great deal of time to producing 
string quartets and coaching them and getting them ready for 
competitions and everything else. Our conservatory has one I think 
two times a year for the whole United States. 

Riess: How about the trio form? Do they coach trio? 

Rowell: A trio is also coached, and trio in my day almost did more than 

quartets. But I would say a quartet has much surpassed a trio in 
its popularity with the general audience, and it is a higher form, 
to me, of musicianship. Though I adore a trio, of course. The 
Beaux Arts trio is my ideal of one. It s had its I don t know 
what twenty-fifth, thirtieth, fortieth anniversary and is still 
playing. And it s just beautiful. Those two forms are going right 
down in history. 



Yosemite One Snowy June 

Riess: Well, then let s turn to something you do like to talk about. You 
wanted to get in some tales of your early climbs, didn t you? 

Rowell: Oh! Now you re right down my alley. I really think that those 

summers mean more to me than anything, probably, that has happened 
in my whole lifetime. 

I think I mentioned to you that my sister Marion and I used 
to go to Yosemite together. She had a Model A Ford which she ran. 
But we went in there one earlier summer, before she had a car, by 
train, and we saw these people coming down a trail, above Nevada 
Falls, with donkeys. They looked dirty and dusty and tired, and we 
said, "Oh, wouldn t that be wonderful to do!" 

Marion was five years older than I and teaching at University 
High School. The next year she came home one day and said, "Well, 
how would you like to take one of those trips?" I said I surely 
would love it. What had happened was that Leonarde Keeler went to 
University High School, Leonarde and his sister, Eloise Keeler. 
Their father was Charles Keeler, the poet and writer who was a 
great friend of John Muir s and went to Alaska with him. He was 
considered one of the Berkeley writers and painters Keeler, 
Sterling, Keith, Bret Harte, Twain. 

He had three children. Eloise was younger than Leonarde. She 
said, "Oh, brother, I m going on that trip with you." 

He said, "Oh, no you aren t." 

She said, "Come in. Look here. I ve got my things right here. 
I went out and bought them. I m going out on that trip with you." 


Rowell: He said, "I m sorry. It s a boy s trip and you are not allowed on 

Anyway, he finally said, "Well, I ll tell you. If you get a 
bunch of girls together beforehand, I ll take you out before we 
take our trip." That satisfied her. 

In those days there wasn t any such thing as backpacking. 
There were no dried foods. Nobody ever thought of carrying 
everything on their back. You had to have animals to carry your 
food your hams and your bacons and your canned goods and your heavy 
sleeping bags and such. 

Well, I don t know whether it was Narde or Eloise who asked 
Marion at school if she would be interested in going, because she 
was teaching physical education and she was a favorite of all the 
people there. She came home and asked me. It didn t take me one 
split second. Even though I was on KGO, and broadcasting all the 
time without time off , this was far enough ahead of time so that 
I could say I was going to take a vacation. 

We started counting on it right away. It turned out to be my 
sister and myself, and two other sisters both teachers, eight of 
us. Two, four, six, and then the two boys to lead us, Leonarde 
Keeler and Ralph Brand. I think we paid something like sixty dollars 
apiece for it, which seemed like an awful amount. 

June was a lovely time of the year to start out in the High 
Sierra. I went early to Yosemite to stay with some of my friends 
and got there about the twelfth or thirteenth of June. The 
rest arrived on the sixteenth , and it was snowing , even on the 
floor of the valley on the sixteenth. Just a little bit. Of 
course, it dried right up. 

Leonarde knew that he could rent animals right there in the 
valley, and was counting on getting them. But he didn t realize 
that, since we were going to climb from Yosemite to Huntington Lake 
over a hundred miles, we would have to bring the animals all the 
way back. That would be another long journey. We wanted to get 
rid of them down there. No, there was nothing doing. We had to buy 

There was a great commotion over that, because the other two 
sisters weren t going to pay anything more. They had paid their 
fee and that was what the fee was. We had to buy these animals at 
sixty dollars apiece, as I remember. Marion and I went right in 
I guess we all did, finally and bought the animals right then and 
there and set out, supposedly to go to Huntington Lake. 





JULY 15, 1924 

Climbs Mountain 

co-ed and daughter of Berke 
ley s well known poet, who has 
added laurels as mountain 
climber to those Won by her in 

world of art. 


July 15. 
and other 

"*n- Will 

- Q" 



U. C. Co-eds Among Group! 
of First Women to Reach, 
Top of Hermit Mountain, 
Altitude of 12,500 Feet 

BERKELEY, July 15. To a 
group of Berkeley girls. Including | 
several University of California . 
students, belongs the honor of be- | 
Ing the first women to scale Hermit | 
mountain, treacherous peak of the 
high Sierra region in the Evolution ] 
basis country, south of Tosemite i 

As far as is known the peak, j 
which rises to an altitude of 12,500 j 
feet, has only been scaled on one 
other occasion. That was last year 
when Leonarde Keeler, son of 
Managing Director Charles Keeler 
of the Chamber of Commerce. 
made the perilous ascent. This 
year young Keeler was the leader 
i of a party of girls who braved 
I hardships and real dangers to 
penetrate the heart of the rugged 
mountain country. 


In the group of mountain climb 
ers were Eloise Keeler, sister of 
young Keeler. and a university stu 
dent; Marjorie Sanborn of Berke 
ley, also a co-ed: Miss Orpah Hart. 
daughter of Howard Hamilton 
Hart. Alaska millionaire, whose 
Claremont home is one of the show j 
places of the Eastbay; Miss Nancy 
Adams of Los Angeles. Miss Irene 
Henley, teacher In the Berkeley 
schools, and Miss Marian Avery, 
well-known cellist. 

So steep was the rise of the 
mountain that ropes were neces 
sary to aid in the climb over the 
"chimney" formation which makes 
Its ascent a difficult feat. Sharing 
leadership with young Keeler, an 
ardent mountaineer, as guide of the 
party was Ralph Brand, another 
young Berkeleyan. The party ] 
passed over the 12,000-foot John 
Mulr pass, one of the less fre 
quented beauty spots of the Sltrra 
region, and made its way home by 
Huntington lake and Fresno. . f 

But one mishap marked ^.the 
walking tour and this occurred 
when Miss Sanborn. stumbling 
a rock, broke a toe. Fortunately 
the party boasted one h^rse- used 
as a pack animal and- Miss San- 
born mounted its back for the "-^- 
paratively few miles jemainlnr 

fore the trip was eridert at Fr 
This Is the second walkin 
of the high Blerta. region- 
taken by Keeler tills seasoi 
terest his young IrlenO 
I wilderness regions of th 
" I state. He had Just rett: 

| a party of boys when h 
jsembled a group of fa 
. climbers for him to 
*| Keeler hi.. - - 



BERKELEY, July 15. To a 
group of Berkeley girls, including 
several University of California 
students, belongs the honor of be 
ing the first women to scale Hermit 
mountain, treacherous peak of the 
high Sierra region in the Evolution 
basis country, south of Yosemite 

As far as is known the peak, 
which rises to an altitude of 12,500 
feet, has only been scaled on one 
other occasion. That was last year 
when Leonarde Keeler, son of 
Managing Director Charles Keeler 
of the Chamber of Commerce, 
made the perious ascent. This 
year young Keeler was the leader 
of a party of girls who braved 
hardships and real dangers to 
penetrate the heart of the rugged 
mountain country. 

In the group of mountain climb 
ers were Eloise Keeler, sister of 
young Keeler, and a university stu 
dent; Marjorie Sanborn of Berke 
ley, also a co-ed; Miss Orpah Hart, 
daughter of Howard Hamilton 
Hart, Alaska millionaire, whose 
Claremont home is one of the show 
places of the Eastbay; Miss Nancy 
Adams of Los Angeles, Miss Irene 
Henley, teacher in the Berkeley 
schools, and Miss Marian Avery, 
well-known cellist. * 

So steep was the rise of the 
mountain that ropes were neces- 
ary to aid in the climb over the 
"chimney" formation which makes 
its ascent a difficult feat. Sharing 
leadership with young Keeler, an 
ardent mountaineer, as guide of the 
party was Ralph Brand, another 
young Berkeleyan. The party 
passed over the 12, 000- foot John 
Muir pass, one of the less fre 
quented beauty spots of the Sierra 
Huntington lake and Fresno.... 

*This was Margaret Avery; Marion Avery was also one of the group. 


Rowell: We did have a trip of trips! I ll never forget a moment of it in 
my life, getting them packed and starting out on the trails, going 
up over Vernal Falls and then over Nevada Falls. We didn t get 
started until the middle of the day because of all the commotion of 
getting off, so we had to camp just back of Cloud s Rest. 

We woke up in the morning to find our animals gone. They had 
just run right straight down to the valley again. [laughter] So 
we had to wait while Narde went down to the valley to get them and 
bring them back, which of course took a great part of the day. 

Where we stopped that night was absolute snow every place. We 
finally found one rock that stuck up from the snow to put the 
animals on, and another rock to put our sleeping bags on, built a 
big fire, and went down for the night. I think it was then that 
I put my shoes, sopping wet, out by the fire to dry and, of course, 
burned the whole front part of my shoes off! [laughter] They tried 
to put adhesive around them in some way and have me have something, 
because we were in snow from then on, day and night, but the front 
part of those shoes were off and that was all there was to it. I 
did have another pair of something that I slipped into for the rest 
of the trip, because those were unusable. 

I had just graduated from college. I was going to be dressed 
right for this trip, especially with two boys along. So I had made 
myself a gingham dress. I was very proud of it. It was very 
neatly made. It looked marvelous on me. I wore corsets so, of 
course, I brought my corset along, my shoes and stockings and 

Well, in the night the boys got up and dug a grave and buried 
my corset and my wonderful dress, my pet dress. They buried that 
dress! I brought it along because it was good-looking! [laughter] 
So I started out the next day in my pants what did we call those 
things that bloom out here like riding pants? And my long stockings 
and a pair of shoes that , as I remember , gave out almost instantly 
on me. 

We started out that next morning across the snow and that was 
when I found out about Flopsy. We had one horse, a little tiny 
burro, and two mules, four animals to carry everything. Our sleeping 
bags at that time were awfully heavy. And I remember the hams that 
got awfully smelly by the time you got through to them, but were 
still good to eat. 

The next few days were really something. Flopsy, we named 
the first day out because we didn t realize that they d sold us an 
animal as old and as decrepit as she was. She would trudge along 


Rowell: in the snow for a little bit and then just flop right straight over 
on her side, with all her baggage on her. We d have to take it 
off, and stand her up, and then repack her. That repacking was 
never done quite as well as packers would. I remember repacking her 
twenty times one day, which was an awful lot. 

Riess: With all of this, was it fun? 

Rowell: Oh, it was! You wouldn t think it was fun. I know what my son 

means now by climbing. He just climbed Kilimanjaro last week. Now, 
whether that s fun or not, I can t tell you, but it is an experience, 
and it s an experience you ll never forget and you wouldn t take 
anything under the sun for it. 

Everybody said, "Oh, I wonder if he will climb Kilimanjaro 
when he s over in Africa?" Well, yes, but I didn t expect him to 
climb up and down in one day, because they have those places where 
you stay overnight on the way up. But he did it. Whether it was 
fun, I can t tell you. But I know the joy he had in doing it. 

Riess: Was it unusual, for young women to be doing this trip? 

Rowell: Yes, and no. When you see the pictures of the Sierra Club from 

1900 with mobs of women with their great big long skirts on, hiking 
in the most unusual places, riding side saddle, going into all of 
these out of the way places, you realize that with the Sierra Club, 
with things like that, it was not unusual. It was, perhaps, 
unusual for four to go off, or six of us to get off alone, but it 
was not at all unusual for people to go into the Sierra. 

Riess: You mean in larger bands? 

Rowell: Not more than one group a summer, maybe, in the Sierra. You didn t 
meet people when you went. In my whole time out we never met 

Riess: Why were you not a member of the Sierra Club? 

Rowell: I had heard of the Sierra Club but it didn t have the meaning for 
me at that time. I thought it was just for older people. I 
remember that two of my friends said that they would put my name 
into the Sierra Club. (You had to have your name put in and be 
passed on.) I d never thought of it as anything that you did 
yourself. I thought you had to be asked. 

It wasn t the organization then that it is now. When I came 
to know the professors here, at UC, who were in it all the time 
and always going on those trips when I learned about the Sierra 
Club trips later I realized that we should have been in it. 


Rowel 1 : 

Riess : 

My father was always too busy, I think. He would never have left 
his family to take a trip like that, even though he did, later, 
take a summer and go into Desolation Valley, behind Lake Tahoe. 

I had never heard of people taking the kind of a trip we were 
taking. It was very adventurous to me, and very wonderful. Nobody 
on our trip had ever been on any of it before, so it was absolutely 
new to us. The boys who were leading us as guides had never been 
on any of it. All they had was a compass and a map. We very 
seldom could see the blazes on the side of the trees, because to 
see a blaze the snow had to have melted around from the tree enough 
and then you looked down and saw the blazes, which were about four 
or five feet, at least, up on these trees. We always looked 
down to see a blaze because of the terrific snow fall. There has 
not been anything like it until these last two years. 

I don t see how you managed, 
the time. 

You must have been walking in snow all 

Rowel 1 : 

Rowell : 

We were walking in snow all day long, 
absolutely soaking. 

Our shoes just got soaking, 

As I say, the second night out we camped right in the midst 
of the snow. We were going on that next day and I can remember 
Eloise saying to Narde, "Oh, look at this blue snow!" 

He said, "Blue snow!" He realized we were crossing right 
across the middle of Merced Lake. He got us off to the sides very, 
very quickly , and around that . 

We evidently came in on Sunrise Trail, and finally came down 
to Tuolomne Meadows. He had thought that we could sleep in the 
Sierra Club lodge. It was just so tightly locked that there was 
no getting into it. So we laid our sleeping bags down and slept. 
In the morning everything was completely [frozen]. The Tuolomne 
River was frozen right over solid ice. If we d go down and 
knock it out and get water, it would ice by the time we brought it 

Then we started up Lyell Canyon. Lyell Canyon was simply 
beautiful, with icicles hanging every place on either side of us. 
We got up to the foot of Mount Lyell, which would take us to 
Donohue Pass. 


We decided that what to do was to have Narde and one of the sisters 
go up and see if they could make a trail that the animals could go 
on without falling all the time. So, they got up early in the 


Rowell: morning and we could see them: They slid down on their fannies 
and their heels, making a zig-zag trail with their bodies that 
could really be a trail, without all these big chuck holes in it, 
so that the animals could follow up in the morning. The girl had 
her feet almost frozen. I remember her shoe strings sticking out 
straight when she got down, and we had to just work and work and 
work on her feet. 

We were ready to start in the dark the next morning. We made 
it all right. There was only one thing. We got up to their point 
and they had forgotten to look down. It was straight down, just 
a cliff! We were quite a ways away from the pass. We found, in 
no time, that the animals couldn t make it through that snow 
anyway. As soon as the sun came up the animals would sink. So 
we had to carry all our stuff down and make a camp below. We had 
to leave our animals there on dry rocks and go on down several 
miles, which meant dragging all the luggage down through the snow. 
We lost much of it along the way. The boys had to come back in the 
middle of the night to get those animals down while the snow was 

From then on, it went nicely, except for an awfully interesting 
thing. One of the people had to teach at USC that summer. She 
had to get out and here we were, in the midst of nowhere. In the 
middle of the night I began thinking, "Oh, I have to play for the 
opening of the National Education Association at the Civic 
Auditorium in San Francisco, and I ll never get back for it." I d 
entirely lost count of the days. 

So Leonarde took us, with the little donkey, up over the 
mountain and down to bring back food. We had almost given out. He 
had a map to go by. That was all. He said, "There s supposed to 
be a hotel on the other side." We had not seen a human being and 
we had to take his word that there was a hotel there and some way 
of reaching civilization. 

The two of us and that donkey climbed up and over the crest 
and came to a lake and started to try to take our animal across it 
but we saw the bridge was broken and so we had to come back. The 
donkey got frightened and raced right straight up to the top of 
the mountain that we d come down so carefully. Narde left the 
two of us with just raisins in our pockets, and started after the 
donkey . 

We sat there wondering what we were going to do. We didn t 
dare go on. After many hours we looked up and did see a horse on 
the skyline, and another and another, four horses up there. It 
turned out to be the ranger who d been out for the very first time 
on that side of the Sierra, with two people. 



He came down to meet us and we asked about Leonarde. 
"Oh, yes. I pursued and lassoed the animal for him. 
coming on down with it." What luck! 

He said, 
He will be 

We slept at the hotel that night. We were all unused to beds 
and put our sleeping bags on the floor for comfort. They had to 
send for a taxi to come the sixty miles and back, each way, to 
put us on a little narrow gauge train. We got into Mohave at two 
in the morning , transferred to something , and we got into 
San Francisco, and I don t know how I ever played. This was the 
Arion Trio. The music I had to play was illustrating Standard 
School Broadcast. We played the opening number. Some of those 
things I remember as being terribly difficult. How I ever thought 
I was going to play, after those weeks out in the wild with my 
hands in the snow all day long, I don t know. But I did. This is 
what I wonder about now. It is things like this that make me know 
now, what I would have denied then that I was a "natural" with the 

I remember going right on to give the evening concert at the 
Key Route Inn and wondering whether I would be able to play there 
that night , and trying to tell the other two something about all 
the experiences, and it didn t seem to mean half as much to them 
as it did to me. I found out years afterwards that they really 
did appreciate it. I just was bubbling over with it. 

Riess: In the scrapbook you had a nickname. What was your nickname? 

Rowell: "Mig." That was long before the Germans took it. My husband 

never wanted anybody to call me "Mig." They could call me anything 
else, but not that. Even my brother found out. I d never liked 
it. I d always wished that I had been called Peggy, a natural 
nickname for Margaret . I asked people at school in the second 
grade to call me Peggy when we, Priscilla and I, were in the same 
grade together. She went around and told them to change the "e" 
to an "i." I stood being called "Piggy" for about two days and 
said, "No, you can call me Mig." So I was Mig for the rest of my 

So there s a great division between before marriage and after 
marriage, because my husband objected to Mig. When I have the Mig 
friends I know they re from before marriage. 


Ed Rowell s Background## 
[Interview 6: October 18, 1982] 

Rowell: Ed s parents came from Czechoslovakia and settled in Minnesota 

where Ed was born. He was brought up on a farm and he worked on 
that farm and knew how hard it was to farm. He helped his father 
plow and plant and of course lived through the harsh winters when 
the snow had to be cleared away every day. When he came to 
California he never wanted to see snow again. 

When he was twelve he was in bed for a long time, with a 
serious foot injury, and while he recovered the minister brought 
books to him to read. Like so many illnesses are for so many people, 
that, I think, was a turning point for Ed. 

He knew he wanted to go to college. That was not usual; sons 
usually stayed on to farm. He went to Dubuque, Iowa, to a college 
there. I think he would have become a minister, but for the fact 
that he then went on to the University of Chicago which at that 
time was considered the greatest university in the country, with 
amazing people there, amazing professors. He was older, of course, 
when he went there, than the other students after all, he was then 
repeating college, and the teachers he had, later, at a fiftieth 
reunion in 1965, remember him as one of them. Anyway, after school 
there he went and taught at Carleton College for a year. 

Then is when President Robert Gordon Sproul at Berkeley wrote 
to the University of Chicago asking for "a man trained in the 
philosophies who can teach my students to think." And it was quite 
a switch when he came here, but he did love Berkeley, of course. 

When we were married and we had Galen , he was so pleased and 
so excited. Actually, when Galen was born, August 23, that was 
the start of the fall term, and he was so busy with school starting 
that he didn t come to the hospital and I didn t see him for those 
days. But everyone told me afterwards how excited he was. 

In those first years we were both busy with Galen, so that Ed 
didn t have a chance to do much writing. He did write the 
Prolegomena To Argumentation, but that was to have been only the 
beginning. I wish now I could have taken the time to have him dictate 
more to me. His eyesight was so bad, yet he still read constantly, 
with the little sight he had in one eye. His writing was so fine, 
really wonderful. If he had written more and published more he would 
have gotten ahead in the university faster. As it was, it was not 
until late that he became a full professor. 


A Royal Audience at Yosemite* 

Riess: We wanted to add something today about the trio performing at 

Rowell : The whole trio went in for a week or so in summer each year when I 
was going to college, and we just loved it, that was our vacation, 
they treated us royally. We put on our evening dresses, and they 
had a regular stage concert for us each evening. 

Riess: This is at the Ahwahnee? 

Rowell: No, not the Ahwahnee. In fact I don t know whether the Ahwahnee 
was even built in those days yes it was, part of the time. But 
this was Camp Curry that always had the concerts, and it had been 
noted for it. In fact when I was in there in 1916 I was attracted 
to Camp Curry and its concerts because the violinist then had been 
a pupil of Leopold Auer, who taught Kreisler and all those people. 
And she played so beautifully, I just stood underneath that stage 
and listened to her and thought this was the most beautiful thing 
to hear really out of doors, never thinking I would ever be on 
that same stage myself playing years later. 

Riess: How was it arranged? 

Rowell: Curry s had a great big place where there were outdoor concerts in 
the evening, and then we stayed there for the firefall and played 
during the firefall. That always ended the program. 

Riess: Did people get themselves dressed up a little bit, the audience? 

Rowell: No, I don t think so, I don t remember. I just merely know that 
we played for a big audience every night. 

One summer I wanted to stay longer, after I d graduated, and 
we stayed almost the whole summer. That summer I remember so well 
because the Currys ran it , and Mary Curry was a very wonderful person 
who knew all the wildf lowers and was very beautifully educated, 
and we saw her romance begin with one of the workers. He was going 
to Stanford at the time, and each summer we saw that romance develop 
until the last summer they were really very much in love, and she 
married him. Pretty soon he became the manager of the whole Curry 
Company and all of Yosemite Valley, and after that he just happened 
to become president of Stanford! That s [Donald B.] Tresidder. We 
saw all of that through our eyes; it was wonderful to see them. 

*[ recorded August 12, 1983] 


Rowell: It was one of those summers when we were there that they announced 
to us that the prince and princess of Sweden were going to arrive, 
and at that time there was a big, white hotel up on Glacier Point, 
the great big Glacier Point Hotel. The prince and princess were 
to stay there with their royal party. 

So they closed the hotel completely to everybody else, but 
they told us that we were to play for them. Of course I, being 
the climber that I was in those days, insisted on going up the 
Ledge Trail which since has been closed, now nobody is allowed to 
go up it and sent my evening dress and cello up by car, and got 
up there. 

We were so excited about playing for them. The table was set 
I would say for maybe twelve people, something like that. We 
waited for the prince and princess to come in, and the princess 
came in and I don t think I ve ever been so disappointed in a 
princess in my whole life my imagination of beauty and everything 
else, and here we were in our evening dresses. She came in in a 
gingham dress which was sort of pink-and-white, pinstriped, made 
just exactly as we would make them today. And he came in in hiking 
trousers, I would say. Their attendants were very casually dressed, 

They sat down at the table, which was absolutely beautifully 
set, and there appeared the people in black, ready to serve them. 
When the prince got through with his soup, which was the first 
course, he jumped up and just motioned, held his soup bowl up in the 
air, "I want more, I want more!" He evidently thought he was in 
the "Wild West," you see, which was wonderful. So that was our 
introduction to them. 

The other thing that was interesting was that there was a huge 
half of an avocado with a piece of lemon at each place. Avocadoes 
in those days were something so rare. The princess didn t touch 
hers, so nobody at that table touched theirs. Of course they 
were wonderful to us. The prince would run over to us at the piano 
and tell us what he wanted us to play, very informal, very wonderful. 

When they left, there were those twelve halves of huge avocadoes, 
and the waitress said, "What can we do? What can we do?" All they 
had to tell me was that I could have all I wanted. I think it s 
been at least forty years that I haven t cared two hoots about 
avocadoes! I ate my fill! [laughter] 

It was the next day that was so exciting. The crown prince, 
we knew, wanted to ride down into the valley on horseback to find 
out all about the wildf lowers and the rocks and so on. So it was 
Tresidder who was destined to take him down the sixteen-mile trail, 
which they did, and they evidently had a wonderful time together. 


Rowell: That night we had to give a program at Camp Curry for them. We 
knew that his father had written a national hymn that everybody 
knew in Sweden. They d given it to us to arrange for the trio, so 
we announced it and played it, and he was of course sitting down 
in the front row, and he immediately jumped right straight up on 
his chair and said, "My father did not write that. That was my 
great-great-grandfather who wrote it." [laughter] But it really 
was Gustaf Adolf, the same name. 

I might just say that they have both died since then. When 
the princess, then of course, Queen of Sweden, died and I saw her 
picture in the paper, I was attracted to the picture immediately; 
that long, long, almost homely face had not changed, but there was 
a beauty in it as she grew older. It was a homely and long, 
broad-boned, Swedish face. 

When he died I had already learned that what he did was to take 
either one or two months off every year from being king now many 
people know this to go incognito on archaeological digs, and he 
did that all his life. Did you know that? I think that s just 
fascinating. I must say that I had the greatest respect for the 
Swedish royal family from then on. I think they were simply 
remarkable. They were completely natural in every way, and they 
maybe overdid it a shade for that particular occasion, but I don t 
think so; I think it was we who didn t know how to meet them. 

Riess: Was Tresidder well up in the company when he took them on the tour 
of the valley? 

Rowell: No, I don t think so. But he was going with Mary Curry very 

definitely, and the Currys arranged everything, and I believe he 
was going to Stanford, and I believe he was majoring in medicine. 
But he knew his wildflowers and rocks and he knew everything about 
the mountains, as Mary did too. 

Riess: Would you say that that characterized most of the people who went 
to Yosemite then? That they were really well informed? 

Rowell: Well, remember that the Currys lived there all summer long every 
summer. You almost become part of the very landscape. 

Riess: I mean the people who came to visit Yosemite for the summer, 

compared to who you might imagine goes and plops themselves down 
there now. Do you think that it was different? 

Rowell: No, I don t think there was that much difference. Actually there 
were fewer people on the trail then than now. When we started 
off in those days and went on trails, we were alone. Hiking was 


Rowell: not "in." Today they re crowded. And the people stayed underneath 
and played cards and did all sorts of things, which disgusted me 
in those days! So I wouldn t say it had changed so much. 

Almost every morning , because I had to play every night , I 
would get up sometimes at four or four-thirty in the morning and 
start out when it was just getting light and take a long trail and 
be back by lunchtime and take a good swim and be ready to play 
in the evening. But I would hike ten or twelve miles in the morning. 
I remember I did Half Dome. It was the first time it had been 
opened for years with the cables. 

Riess: Who arranged that the trio be in Yosemite? 

Rowell: I can t tell you that. I had visited there so many, many times 
and I d seen and heard the music, and we knew Mary Curry s best 
friend who was a very beautiful vocalist who was a soloist on NBC 
in San Francisco and it was probably through her that they came 
for us. So I don t know. I don t remember such details. 

Riess: When you were hiking on those trails did you ever think of 

yourself as somebody who should watch out for her hands and arms 
and things like that? 

Rowell: No, not at all, not at all, not in the least. 

Riess: That s interesting, isn t it? Don t you think that concert cellists 
or violinists would be very averse to using themselves physically 
if they were 

Rowell: Well, rock climbing was not in as it is today. I did very little. 
Of course I pulled myself up some places I guess and did that, 
but the actual rock climbing as it s known today, as my son does, 
just simply wasn t in in those days. People didn t do it. That 
came from I guess almost Switzerland later. 

Riess: So you weren t clawing your way along, as it were, in any way? 

Rowell: Well, of course I had done that very much in 1926 when we first 
climbed Mt. Whitney. There were no trails up at all, and I was 
conferring with somebody the other day who did it just about three 
years after I did, and she said, "Oh yes, we went up that chimney 
too." Then we really did have to fight our way up the chimney. We 
were climbing with our hands and legs the whole way up, just as they 
do a present-day chimney, as they call them. So on that trip I 
did use everything I had, and of course on that trip I went right 
back to Yosemite to play. 


Rowell: The minute I got through and I d been three weeks climbing 

Mt. Whitney and of course absolutely in the wilds I had to take a 
train, and my father put my cello in its soft case on a Pullman 
overnight from Oakland to Fresno, where I met the train, and then 
took a little, tiny narrow-gauge train into Yosemite, and then the 
bus into Yosemite, and had to play that night. The trio was 
waiting for me, and I had to put on an evening dress and walk 
out there, not having had a chance to really practice, and I d 
been three weeks doing all this climbing and clambering. 

I got out there, and the funniest thing was not playing my 
cello but it was sitting down in a chair! It felt so funny to sit 
down in a chair, and the other thing that was funny was looking 
at my music; those two things were funny. But of course playing 
didn t seem hard to me at all. I can t see now how I could think 
I could sit down and play without having really practiced. But 
it evidently came very naturally to me , and there it was , so I 
just played. [laughter] 

Riess: You must have really tried the patience of the rest of the trio at 
moments like that. 

Rowell: Oh, I m sure I did, but they never mentioned it, never, never, never. 
Really I often think about going in and just putting on my dress 
and walking up on that stage. Of course I was what should I say? 
never at ease on the stage, I never am, I m always nervous. 

Riess: So it wouldn t have made any difference to have had a day to 

Rowell: Oh, it would have, I m sure it would have been better, sure it 

would have been better, but they put up with me through thick and 

The Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship 

Rowell: Ed and I became very interested in the Unitarian Church. It was the 
First Unitarian Church in that wonderful Maybeck building down on 
the corner of Bancroft and Dana. Lovely music and excellent 
ministers. Raymond Cope was the minister for a long time. Ed 
always filled the pulpit once or twice a year there. When I say 
"filled the pulpit," I don t mean preached a sermon, but he always 
gave a remarkable talk which fitted in with their background very 


Riess: That s the tradition in the Unitarian Church, that the minister is 
from the congregation? 

Rowell: No, it isn t. Most Unitarian churches have a regular minister 
just like anybody else. 

Later on a group of couples broke away from the First 
Unitarian Church to form the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarians. 
I did not pay attention to reasons. I was and still am very fond 
of Raymond Cope, who was the minister at that time. As far as I 
can understand there was disagreement about the running of the 
Sunday School. They differed on how the children should be taught 
in Sunday School. It was not a really negative attitude, because 
we all ran back to the First Church for many of their occasions. 

And at that time it did come to having those professors take 
over the Sunday morning services. They were absolutely fascinating. 
I have never enjoyed such a circle of people. The attendance was 
absolutely regular. Nobody would miss it for anything. 

Riess: Did it grow in size, or did it always remain that circle? 

Rowell: It grew in size. Yes. Those few that were there, that did the 

actual I don t like to call it a breaking away, because we often 
went back to the old church for all sorts of things, but this was 
its own group. I could tell you some of the people who belonged 
to it. 

Riess: Yes. 

Rowell: Put that down for just a minute. [break in tape] Augusta Trumpler 
was one. I was with her last Sunday just as active and brilliant 
as ever. Her husband was a professor of astronomy and in charge 
of the Mount Hamilton observatory. They lived down there for many, 
many years. I don t believe it was until his retirement that 
they moved up here to Berkeley. But somehow we knew them before 
that because we visited them at Mount Hamilton. It was their 
son-in-law, Harold Weaver, who was in charge of Mount Hamilton 
when we took Galen down. We went down several times. One time 
we slept on their front porch in our sleeping bags. Another time 
we camped out below Mount Hamilton and enjoyed it. Going in 
there and looking through the telescope and everything was 

Harold Weaver married Augusta s daughter, Cecile. They now 
live in Berkeley. Harold would give a sermon maybe twenty years or 
longer ago than that and tell us that there was life on other 
planets, other places in the universe. There would have to be some 


Rowell: place, if we only could find it. I thought this, coming from a 
person who s in charge of that whole observatory and has devoted 
his life to astronomy, really very exciting. He is still with our 
group, still telling us! 

Riess: The sermons would be on anything of general interest? 

Rowell: Yes. There was a wonderful quality to them. I would say that they 
were a spiritual experience, rather than the usual religious 
experience, except to me that one was. 

Riess: Did you ever give one? 
Rowell: No. I should say not. 
Riess: Is that a list of the members? 

Rowell: Yes. You can see how there are plenty of them. It came to be a 
very close association, so that we would get together often. 

I was trying to think of Professor Marvin Rosenberg, of 
dramatics. His wife wrote beautiful poetry, very religious poetry, 
inspired poetry. She died of cancer. It was a terrific experience 
for all of us in that small group, to have her right in her 
bloom of living have to go. We tried to do everything for him. 
He went over and spent a summer in England with the theater this 
was probably a year or so afterwards and came back with a perfectly 
beautiful young bride, who is still a part of our group. I see 
them at least once a month now and they are very, very happy. 

Professor Willard V. Rosenquist and Anna Lou Rosenquist in the 
design department. He does such perfectly beautiful art work. 
What he did for the Fellowship, the hanging mosaics and all those 
enameled things were beautifully done. 

His wife, Anna Lou Rosenquist, is perhaps one of my dearest 
friends. She, as I see it, is practically responsible for the Gray 
Panthers at Berkeley. I notice they have her address to send to. 
She has been very, very ill in her life, but you would never know 
it. I think she must weigh eighty pounds. But she s right 
there all the time. They make trips to Europe, back and forth. 

Riess: In the Fellowship a sermon could be devoted to the whole issue 
of the Gray Panthers? 

Rowell: Oh yes. Often somebody would write a play with a certain background 
to it. That would be a very definite thing. They can put on a 
Greek thing, put on all sorts of things. But basically, I loved 
the discussions. I would say that there were some very, very 
beautiful sermons by wonderful outsiders. 


Rowell: I might call Anna Lou Rosenquist, who would know the whole thing, 
and find out some of those names. [See Appendices.] 

Riess: It would be interesting if we could include some of the names in 

Rowell: Yes. I remember one time I didn t know the name at all they 

said that Joan Baez was coming to service one morning. I didn t 
know why, suddenly, there was a whole crowd of young people sitting 
on the floor and all around when I arrived. Then came Joan Baez 
and she spoke very beautifully. If you ve ever heard her speak 
you know she does speak beautifully. And she sang. Her songs 
were the religious songs. She herself was a very religious person. 

Riess: Were young people included? 

Rowell: It was both. It went the gamut, but I would say these college 
professors and their wives were the backbone of it. 

The wonderful part of it, to me, is that what happened then 
has gone right on. There was a long time when I didn t know about 
anything going on. Of course, I was very, very busy. The group 
has been turned over, more and more, to the young people. Now 
it s entirely, almost, a young peoples meeting. So I don t go 
any more because it s too young for me, and too young for most of 

But what has happened is that these people of forty or thirty 
years ago , whenever all this was , get together once a month at 
somebody s home. It s really just remarkable. One person there 
takes over the whole thing. 

One of the people who I enjoy very much is Dr. Sedgwick Mead. 
He and his wife were the backbones of it. She was always helping 
in every hospital Kaiser Hospital and so on helping the patients 
in every way that she possibly could. Dr. Sedgwick Mead was in 
charge of the Vallejo rehabilitation center for years and years. 
I don t see how he could have the smile that he has and that 
absolute feel for humanity that he has. A devoted person. I 
went up and visited one whole day. Did I tell you this? 

I have never been so impressed by any hospital as I was by 
that hospital. The people running around in wheelchairs, maybe 
without any legs or arms but with a smile on their face and doing 
everything under the sun. It wasn t a place where people lay down 
and were in bed. I was so excited by it. I can t possibly tell 
you now. 


Riess: Were you in Vallejo because you were interested in something like 
music therapy? 

Rowell: I m very interested in music therapy. It always was one of my 
main interests and I ve always followed it. 

No. I actually was there to see Dr. Mead because he was a 
friend of my husband s. My husband, at that time, was in a 
convalescent hospital. But when I saw how that hospital was run 
I wondered if there was any possibly that Ed could be there and 
regain something. 

Sedgwick Mead came right down to Ed s convalescent hospital 
in East Oakland and spent time with Ed, for whom he had such 
respect. He came out and said, "Margaret, I can t do a thing. 
It is senility." That was it. That was a horrible moment for me, 
but he was simply wonderful to me. 

Riess: So the nucleus of this original group, now meets once a month? 

Rowell: Yes. What I m sure would be called the old people, almost entirely 
the professors and their wives. And nobody wants to miss it. 
It s always a good crowd. There s always the same bunch of us 
that get together. 

Sedgwick Mead wrote the most exciting thing for one of his 
that I ever heard. He spent a great deal of time on it. I can t 
explain it to you. He ran a tape, and that tape was one of the 
most revealing tapes I ve ever had. I won t even try to attempt 
to tell you what it was. He didn t want to explain until he d 
done it all. 

It started with well, you didn t know what it was. You 
heard a swishing of water in the background. What it really came 
out to be was the whole thing of the unborn child inside the womb. 
It was just fascinating, all that went on for the reactions the 
inner and the outer and the outer and the inner. He, being a 
doctor, knew what he was talking about. It was fascinating. 

Riess: That s interesting. It is a very non-establishment religion 

Rowell : 

that you finally ended up with, 
important to you. 

And yet religion itself is 

Very important. Very important. And I think it is to most of the 
people in the group. It looks at all sides. I like the 
expansiveness of it. 


Rowell : 



Rowell : 

Ed, Margaret, and Galen 

Let s see if there s more to tell about Ed. 
great deal more. 

I m sure there is a 

Yes. You said, when you were talking about taking a class from 
him, that it wasn t exactly speech that he was teaching. 

[laughter] Well, I don t know whether I said that. I think 
that what he did want to do was to get you to think through what 
you were going to do. His idea was outlining very carefully, 
getting things in order. He was a great order person. He was a 
very quiet person and he never spoke until he knew exactly what 
he was going to say, and said it in really beautiful words. 

Did that make him sort of compulsive, rigid? 

Not in any way rigid. He was the easiest man to live with and 
the quietest man to live with. Now, I don t speak in good 
sentences. Everybody has always called me down for running 
ahead and never putting a period, and then stopping, and doing all 
sorts of things. None of this ever bothered Ed in the least, and 
I was always surprised. 

I had one friend, an elderly person who had come from Germany, 
who spoke without stopping ever. Just talk, talk, talk. She drove 
me wild. Her daughter was one of my very dear friends. I hated 
to have her come out and talk to Ed because of his very quiet and 
fine way of speaking. But he was simply entranced with her, and 
treated her like a queen. 

He loved people of all backgrounds. The fact that I never 
finished my sentences he s one of the few people who never called 
me down for it. 

Riess: How about with Galen? Did he have very high expectations of how 
Galen should speak and write? 

Rowell: You know, that never occurred to me until this moment. Galen 

stuttered so badly all through his youth, and I never thought of 
it connected with his father s magnificent speech until this very 
moment. It never had occurred to me. But Galen did stutter all 
through grammar school and quite a bit of high school. 

I remember in high school Galen s first big appearance was 
with his rocks , which I should tell about . 

Riess: You told me about when he was on television, talking about his 
rocks, and he didn t stutter a bit. 


Rowell: Yes. 


Ed had I think we both had this feeling of the unfolding 
of a person. Neither of us told him what to do or what we expected 
of him, really. I think in that we agreed. I don t think he 
taught Galen how to talk or speak, or anything. 

Did he have a program for Galen s life? 
he wanted him to be or do? 

Here is his son. What 

Rowell: Not in the least. Never mentioned it. 

Riess: You ve mentioned several times how you wish you could have 
supported Ed s career more, given more time to that. 

Rowell: Yes. 

Riess: In fact, did the two of you really consciously work out how 
your time was to be spent? Or did you just sandwich it in? 

Rowell: We just lived our lives. I don t think we ever once thought that 
the other one was getting in our way. I don t think we ever had 
that feeling. I don t think he ever had it with me. I m pretty 
sure that he didn t, because we had such a good time together. 

Of course, our great times together were, I will have to say, 
in the out-of-doors, for both of us. I only wish that we could 
have had more of it. Ed, evidently, just loved to travel. He had 
taken [his daughter] Anne, now Mrs. Peter Moorhead, on a trip to 
the desert, to the Indian country. He was always going across the 
United States, driving, and doing all sorts of things. He had 
that wonderful feeling in him, too. 

Riess: Did he take Galen on trips by himself? 

Rowell: No, he never did. But that, again, would have been his eyes. 
That never happened because we always did everything together , 
the three of us. We didn t do things separately. Except as I 
did my music, and as he would go down to his meetings. 

He was on the Starr King School of Ministry board all the 
time. He and Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, president of Mills College. 
I would always get him down early to those meetings because he 
enjoyed talking to her so much beforehand. 

Riess: When he had sabbaticals, where did you go? 


Rowell: [chuckles] Oh. Now you re talking. I always kidded him by 
telling him that I married him because I knew professors had 
sabbaticals. We never had a sabbatical because every sabbatical 
was taken up with eye operations. In all the years that we were 
married , he never had a day off from the campus , except as we 
would take an afternoon off to go some place. 

Riess: Were you teaching at home after you got married? 

Rowell: Yes. Up til, I think it was 1958 or so. Mills College put me 
on their faculty and I went out to Mills , I think only one day a 
week, and taught out there. From Mills, very soon, I went to 
San Francisco State. Then I was gone two days a week. That gave 
him a great deal of time to write. I always felt that. 


Riess: Did he enjoy listening to a music lesson? 

Rowell: I don t think it disturbed him. I don t think he heard it. He 
had his library and his whole office upstairs. 

Of course, I didn t do as much teaching then as I do now, by 
any manner of means. I did very little teaching my first few 
years of marriage, almost none at all. It very gradually grew. 
I don t know how it grew. 

Riess: Well, you had some time when Galen started going to school and all 
of that. 

Rowell: Yes, but even then I didn t teach that much. I loved my section 
meetings my peace section and my this section of the faculty 
wives. I loved doing things. I always met Ed I think I mentioned 
that one afternoon a week, right at noon, and we always went 
some place different every single week. We never made plans. 
Sometimes to San Francisco, sometimes to a museum, sometimes to a 
park, sometimes one place or the other. We always had that 
afternoon that was absolutely sacred to us. 

The Faculty Wives Peace Section, and the Peace Movement, 
World War II 

Riess: What period were you involved in the peace section? 

Rowell: That was the first section I joined when I was married. It had 

people like Professor Adams s wife, in English. She was really 

something. And, of course, Mrs. Winifred Rogin and Mrs. Tolman 


Rowell : 


Rowell : 






Rowell : 

were two of my very dearest friends in that. I wish I could think 
of all the others. I was very impressed with them. Mrs. Kroeber 
was also in that. 

All my background had been toward that, all my life and all 
my reading. We in the trio, as I ve said, were always reading 
books on everything of that type. It was just a natural for me 
to go into that particular section. I had no idea what a group 
I was getting in with, but they really were a wonderful group. 

This would have been before America entered World War II. Were 
you women absolutely against America s entering the war? 

Well, it was quite a bit before that, it would hav.e been 1937, that 
I really first belonged. 

I would say we were against war as war, very definitely, and very 
much against our going into it. 

What did that particular section do? I mean, I know that the 
interest was peace, but what was the activity? 

My sakes. Now that you ask me, I can t remember what we did that 
was really constructive. 

Did you bring speakers to the campus, or that sort of thing, do 
you think? 

We worked with organizations. We worked through organizations. 
I gave so much work and time, from the very beginning, to the 
Women s International League for Peace and Freedom Jane Addams. 
Every one of those women belonged to that. So, I think I 
thought that my WILPF was really the thing that was constructive. 
I still belong to it. 

I think that the peace section was more or less an offshoot 
of that, rather than the other way around. The peace section maybe 
met once a month, something like that. I can t tell you what they 
did in comparison to what WILPF did, which was to get in and work 
from the ground floor up. 

I was totally unprepared for the Second World War when it 

Casals, in something I was reading, made some remark that led me 

to conclude that cellists and the peace movement are closely linked. 

You re absolutely right there. It s really been right straight 
through as far as I can possibly see. Casals perhaps in some way 
stood for it. And here is Bonnie Hampton, who gives her services 


Rowell: all the time for everything for peace. She gave a concert, long 
before our particular troubles now, in Casals s name. 

Riess: People who have lived through the world wars, a couple of people 

I have talked to, think that women, mothers, could stop war if they 
really used their power and influence in that way. 

Rowell: I think you re right on a very important point. One of the 

greatest disappointments of my whole life has been . I saw women s 
suffrage come in. My oldest sister, Louise, worked for Mrs. Charles 
D. [Isabella] Blaney, who was in charge for California. My sister 
was going to Stanford, but her summers were spent with this woman, 
being her secretary. This was before California had voted for 
women s suffrage, the summers of 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1914. 

We were so interested in the suffrage. Of course, my background- 
I m the only one in the family who hasn t got a Susan B. Anthony 
spoon. She sent all the other children a spoon when they were born, 
with her picture on it, and engraved with their names. I didn t 
get a name until I was a year old, so she couldn t put my name on 
a spoon. But I have all these four volumes of the history, that 
she wrote, and she was always in touch with my father. 

Riess: "Your grandmother, Sarah Anthony Burtis, and my father s second 
cousin " [reading dedication]. That is the connection? 

Rowell: It says here, "As the appointed secretaries could not be heard, 
Sarah Anthony Burtis, an experienced Quaker school teacher whose 
voice had been well trained in her profession, filled the duties 
of that office, and she read the report and the documents of the 
convention with a clear voice and a confident manner, to the 
great satisfaction of her more timid co-adjusters." So, anyway, 
there we have that. She became Susan B. Anthony s official 
secretary, I believe, for the rest of her life. 

Susan B. Anthony wrote a different dedication to my father 
in every volume, and there are four volumes of this. 

Riess: This book is called The History of Women s Suffrage, by Susan B. 
Anthony. Her dedication in it is to Mr. Lewis B. Avery, "In 
memory of his beautiful mother, Elizabeth Burtis Avery." It is 
written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Mathilda 
Joslyn Gage. 

Rowell: Yes, but it s all Susan B. Anthony. 







; r 


Rowell: [reading another] "To Lewis B. Avery, with the hope that all of 
his students may become thoroughly acquainted with the great 
principles that underlie the demand for the full enfranchisement 
of women. Very sincerely yours, Susan B. Anthony. Rochester, 
New York. November 7, 1905." There is that. 

Let me see what this dedication says. [reading] "This 
volume closes the words of the nineteenth century and gives the 
status of women in this and foreign countries to the year of 1900. 
Your sincere friend and co-worker, Susan B. Anthony. November 7, 

So, I was brought up with it, and I ve never been as disappointed 
with anything as I have with what women have done with their franchise. 
It s practically broken my heart. When I listen in over the air 
now, when I m traveling, to talk sessions, and hear the women 
take the stand they do , both as to our government and the whole 
thing of peace, I m just shocked. I cannot see how any woman, 
bearing a child and rearing a child , can think that war is a way 
out. It s impossible for me to see the human mind that can in any 
way absorb that and feel that that is a way of going. It s an 
inhuman thing to me. 

Riess: At the time that you were working on suffrage, you didn t have 
an inkling that ? 

Rowell: Well, I never worked on suffrage. I would have been eighteen 

years old, but there was no vote for us until twenty-one, at that 
time. I was interested in it. 

I would not have thought of what? 

Riess: That at least half of the female population was just as benighted 
as 90 percent of the male population? 

Rowell: Yes. Oh no. I really have been very, very disappointed completely 
with what women have done, not only with their voting, but with 
their time. I mean, they felt that they had to compete with men 
all the time. This I don t believe in at all. I don t know what 
the answer is. Of course, we re still in the midst of it. We re 
still riding it. As you can see, I believe in the equality. 

Thank goodness I never thought of anything else while I was 
brought up. My poor father, with four girls and one boy! But 
we were never brought up with any, as you can see, sense of 
inequality between the sexes, whatsoever. 

Riess: Was this peace issue something that the Unitarian group worked on 


Rowell: Yes, of course. I couldn t imagine them taking any other stand 

except 100 percent that way. I think we had many, many Quakers in 
our Unitarian group. I think the Quakers have a wonderful stand, 
myself. I m very proud of all that they ve done. 

Maybe we should say a little bit more about war, because to me 
that s the greatest subject in the whole world today. It s one 
that we forget I forget all the time as I m going around this 
house and as I m doing things and as I m teaching. I completely 
forget that it is possible in this world to have war. And yet, 
here I am and it s going right on. 

I m afraid I don t know how to reconcile it. I just don t. 
Every day I live I wonder what is going to happen, and I m not 
doing enough about it. I m really not. With all my background 
I m not just getting out. One of my very dear friends, Madeline 
Duckies , devotes a good part of every day to everything that she 
can do to keep war away . I admire her so much for that . She s over 
in Russia right now. If she finds that there s something happening 
in Finland, where she should be, she ll use her own money and go 
there. I don t know whether she s been to India. Yes. She ll 
go where she thinks they really need her. She s a beautiful 
speaker, thank goodness, so that she can speak very quietly, very 

I have so many friends that are that way that I feel as if 
I m doing so little for it. 

Riess: But they all would say to you that what you are doing is just 

Rowell: Well, I will have to say that when we gave that great big concert 
[to raise funds for the Nuclear Freeze Initiative, November 1982 
ballot] in San Francisco, in Davies Hall, and had to recruit people 
for it, it was the easiest thing to ask musicians to give their 
services for that. You could not imagine a musician refusing or 
having another idea. 

However, there are a couple of musicians who did refuse, and 
I do have to respect them. One, and I don t think he would mind 
my saying, was Janos Starker. I was rather struck and thought, 
"Oh, this is terrible. This is just absolutely awful," because 
I m so used to everybody [agreeing]. But I realized that as 
Hungarians they ve seen the Russians come in and do everything to 
them, so I see that from their own experience they are afraid, 
they re full of fear now. 


Rowell: I haven t that sense of fear in me, because I haven t experienced 
it personally. I don t know what I would be like had I actually 
experienced it personally as they have. I can t blame them for 
their action. But I have to go on with my action which says, if 
they kill me, okay, but this is the way I believe: that we should 
not go out and kill other people. I don t care what happens to 
me. So, that s it. 

I think that musicians, as a whole, tend this way. I find 
out in my own students, teaching them, that I haven t any students 
who don t believe in peace. I simply don t. I think that the arts, 
basically, emphasize the creativeness of a person. I was with 
people yesterday where their families back of them had been 
creative. One of them, their family had been going over the 
world as street musicians in different countries. The other one, 
their family traveled always and were doing all sorts of creative 
things. They gave up teaching school to write books, and so on. 
I find that this creative approach belongs to a person whose mind 
doesn t see killing off other people. I don t care whether it s 
with spears, as in the old days, or whether it s with bombs of 
today. They don t see that killing off of other people as a way of 
solving anything. 


Riess: I d like to talk about your friends at the university. We ve 

mentioned a few by talking about the Unitarian Fellowship, and the 
fact that you were a member of this faculty wives section club. 

Rowell : Well , I would say that I have a very , very close friendship with 
just a few people from the university background. It just so 
happens that our husbands are all professors. It s not because 
they are professors that we re friends, at all. So I don t put 
it down in the category of belonging to a section or belonging to 
anything else. It s only because we like each other so much and 
love to get together. 

One of my very, very closest friends I saw Saturday night 
for the first time in seven months. That s Christine Sanford, 
whose husband, Nevitt Sanford, was at the university for many 
years, and was one of those three or four professors who refused 
to sign the loyalty oath on that last day. Professor Tolman was 
another one. 


Rowell: At that time, the Sanfords only had seven children, and lived on a 
farm just off of Tunnel Road, with cows, horses, chickens and 
everything else under the sun. You can imagine the life of that 
family, and he was going out that morning the last morning of 
the loyalty oath and Christine said to him, "If you sign the 
loyalty oath, just don t bother to come home." [laughter] I ve 
never forgotten that. 

Riess: Wonderful support. 

Rowell: You would have thought it would have been the other way around, 

with her responsibilities, but no. The aftermath of that, as far 
as he was concerned, because that was a terrific action to take, 
was that the next morning he first got a call from Harvard saying, 
"Will you come here?" Then he got a call from London saying, "Will 
you come here?" And so on. It showed, instantly, the universality 
of the thought of the great people of the world in a moment like 
that, instead of the triviality of taking a stand here. Christine 
has always been one of my very dearest friends. 

Kay Caldwell, wife of Professor Caldwell, in English, is 
another. And Winifred Rogin is one of my very closest friends. Ed 
took me to meet her before we were married and introduced me to her 
when we were still engaged. She had her three very small children 
around her at that time , and I will never forget the beauty of her 
face, and the beauty of those children. I still consider her one 
of my very dearest friends. 

Another one of my friends, who is no longer here, was Juna 
Danielson, who was not at the university but had more influence 
on all of us than anybody else. She kept us informed on how we 
should vote on everything. Not only did we all believe the same, 
but she had read everything on it and could inform us all of 
everything every week. So we just loved her. 

So, let s see. It was Christine Sanford, Juna Danielson, 
Kay Caldwell, Winifred Rogin, Peggy Hayes my sakes, I can t leave 
these other people out. I mean, we got together almost every week 
and ate together. That was what was so wonderful. 

Riess: That s what I wondered, how you kept up that kind of relationship. 

Rowell: Well, we had a group we could get together on a moment s notice. 
At that time we d call ourselves "the gang." The person at whose 
home we met would have the main dish one would bring vegetables, 
the other would bring dessert , and one would bring the salad and 
we d just sit around the table. 


Rowell : 


We do more or less the same thing right now, with a group that 
includes Mary Jones, widow of Professor Harold Jones, head of 
child study, and Elizabeth Elkus, widow of Professor Albert Elkus, 
head of the University of California Music Department, president 
of the San Francisco Conservatory, Kay Caldwell, Christine Sanford 
and Peggy Hayes, sister of Alexander Calder, inventor of the mobile. 
So, that group gets together quite often. 

Christine and Winifred and myself always had a Wednesday noon 
lunch together, no matter what happened. Rain, shine, we couldn t 
do anything for that except to have our lunch together on Wednesday 
noons. There was never any question of career or not career. We 
just simply sat down and talked about the world. I never think 
of myself as being a career person anyway. I really don t. I 
would go there and settle right down into it. This is what I loved. 

Did you have any theories of child rearing? 

Did you and Ed discuss 

Rowell: No, no. Not at all. Somehow, Ed was not the person with whom you 
sat down and discussed things. We both just sort of took things 
as they came. 

I realize now I knew so little about childbirth. I knew 
absolutely nothing. I d never been around, didn t have any idea 
what it was going to be like, never had any preparation for it 
whatsoever. Nobody ever told you what it was going to be like. 
Nobody ever told me what you had to do. I had no prenatal training 
of any kind whatsoever. 

Galen Rowell, Growing Up## 

Rowell: Ed was fifty-four when Galen was born [1940]. I ve told you how 
excited he was. However, he had the feelings, which I think was 
due to that time particularly, that the man didn t step in and do 
the physical work of dishes or housework. He was just wonderful 
with Galen, but of course he didn t get up with him, the way I 
hear that fathers do these days , and then feed them and do that 
type of thing. But he really had in him that great love for Galen. 

As soon as Galen was able to be up and about , I guess this 
was when he was a year old or so, he made him a little kind of 
baby buggy in which to wheel him up and down the street. It 
was just loads of fun. The neighbors loved to see Ed wheeling 
Galen in it. 


Rowell: Those were the days when you fed a child absolutely every four 

hours. If they bawled their heads off in between, you didn t pay 
any attention to them. You weren t allowed to. That was good 
for their lungs. I don t believe in it at all. 

Riess: But Ed did believe in it? 

Rowell: Yes. 

Riess: So, who won? 

Rowell: Oh, Ed, of course. I wouldn t say that. I didn t know any better 
then than to think that you had to do what was supposed to be done, 
which was that you fed them every four hours. 

Riess: But it went against your instincts. 
Rowell: Yes. 

Riess: With your group of women friends, then, would that have been trivial, 
as far as you were concerned, to talk about baby feeding schedules? 

Rowell: Every mother did it. The doctors told us to. 

I very much confined myself to home when Galen was young, 
very much, and to teaching. I don t remember any group meeting 
that soon. That would be forty years ago. I did decide, if I 
could possibly breast feed him, to do that. I had no idea it 
would make such a commotion as it did. Did I show you the 
thing that appeared in the paper about it or not?* No? 

Riess: I don t think so. 

Rowell: The article never named me, but it said that a professor s wife 

was breast feeding her own baby and that the boy would probably 

grow up with strong teeth and a strong jaw, and this type of 
thing. It was very unusual. 

Riess: Was that the theory, that if they were breast fed they would have 
strong jaws and teeth? 

Rowell: Well, I think it is, more or less. I ve always heard that. 

Anyway, this person wrote it up. He wouldn t have told my name for 
anything, because you never saw a breast fed child in those days. 

Of course, I had had tuberculosis, so I had to beg my doctor. 
He said, "Oh, sure. It ll be perfectly okay." So, I did it. I 
loved it. And I think Ed was very proud of me. 

*"A young mother I know, a college professor s wife, is proud as can be 
of nursing her own baby. And is her scholarly husband proud of his wife! 
You would hardly think a comparatively commonplace biological achievement 
like a mother s giving nourishment to her offspring in the way nature 
provided could give two exceptionally favored and intelligent persons so 
much undisguised delight. 


Rowell: Galen was a rambunctious youngster from the very beginning. He wasn t 
the cuddly kind of a baby that I d always expected. You would hold 
him and I ve seen other babies like it since he would just throw 
himself right backwards, right when you were holding him. He would 
almost jump out of your arms backwards before he could creep or walk. 
Ed always insisted that he be put to bed just by the clock, and Galen 
had entirely different ideas, even after he was able to be up and 
around. I can remember trying to have guests for dinner in fact, I 
remember having a very wonderful writer, Harry Overstreet and his wife 
Bonaro and Galen being put to bed. But no, no. He would always climb 
up clear over his crib all the outside things and be under the 
piano before you d know it. They were amazed. 

Ed did start reading to him when he was very, very young. I 
think that was one of the most wonderful things of Galen s life. I 
think it made a great deal of difference to him, and I think he remembers 
quite a bit of what Ed read to him. Galen, being my only child, and 
I not having been around young children because I was the youngest in 
my own family, I didn t realize how children develop. I didn t think 
anything of it when Galen started reading at a very young age , and 
would read through a book and know it by heart. He didn t have to be 
taught. I remember being in the doctor s office and turning the 
pages, and he would read every single page. 

He had this great desire always to collect things. When he was 
about five it was matchbook covers : he had hundreds and hundreds and 
hundreds of them. The wall in his bedroom had little tiny wires of 
them across with hundreds of them on each. That whole wall just 
covered solid with matchbooks. He couldn t get enough. He would 
drive me wild when we d be on the street and he would run to the 
gutter to get them out of the gutter. I objected to that. 

Once when we were in Carmel he saw one over a fence and, of course, 
climbed the fence instantly and got it, and got himself caught right on 
the barbed wire. It didn t bleed seriously, which would have been good 
for it, so they told me that I just had to get him right away to get 
a tetanus shot. I brought him back to Kaiser as soon as I could. 

I spent that day down at the hospital with him. I remember 
it so well. The only thing, since we were caught down there 
well, I may have taken one book along, but not enough was to do 
arithmetic with him. I was amazed at what happened. He just 
adored it. I would go through the ones, and the twos. When I got 
to thirteens he was sitting beside me he could give me the 
answer almost instantly, what thirteen thirteens were and so on. 

"But as the husband proudly informed me, this marvelous feat of his 
wife s is rare in university circles. Faculty members progeny are 
usually bottle babies and it is felt among the friends of this self- 
sufficient young mother that she is doing something which sheds honor 
on her alma mater. 

"At any rate she s giving her tiny son the right start in life. His 
jaws are getting the exercise nature intended them to have. May his 
whole career be equally well grounded." A.E. Anderson, Oakland 
Post-Enquirer, December 19, 1940. 


Rowell: I couldn t believe it! I found out that he simply had that type 
of a mathematical mind. I mean, he just adds a thing of figures, 
up to this day, in no time at all. His daughter Nicole was just 
marveling at it. I can t do it at all. It takes me forever. 

Riess: How much music did you present to him as a child? 

Rowell: Well, he heard enough music most certainly. I tried to give a 

concert when he was about two years old. It was very hard preparing 
for it. I never tried for one after that. I found out then I 
didn t realize it but I really think that he was jealous of my 
music, of what it did to take me away, because I ve seen it in 
other children since then, with their parents. One time he 
practically grabbed my bow away from me. Then I was very aware of 

He was always making up his own melodies , with his own words 
to them. He would ask me to write them down. He must have taken 
some lessons before that and was in a few little recitals. He d 
say, "Mother, I have a song," and I would write it down as he would 
do it. 

Then he began writing his own. He would draw five lines in 
one clef, then he would make up the five lines for another clef and 
put his C wherever he wanted it. In other words, not a bass 
clef. He would make up his own clef signs and he d read both clefs 
on the piano at one time, perfectly easily. He d say, "Oh, this is 
in bumpy clef." He d have different names for different clefs. 
So, he did have a good musical mind. 

I started him with piano. He came and said, "I d like to 
take piano lessons." He did very well and seemed to like it very 
much. Then he came back after a couple of years and said, "I d like 
not to take piano lessons." I, like a very foolish parent, said, 
"Okay." That was my upbringing, to let the child decide. But I ve 
always regretted that I did do that , because he would have made 
a very good pianist. 

The real thing came when he got to playing a little Schubert 
melody from the Unfinished Symphony. It was just a simple melody 
with its harmony, but done very beautifully. Once when we had 
company I think we had our radio on and the symphony was doing 
this. He went to the piano and played the same melody, beautifully. 
He knew it. 

The guests complimented him on it. "Oh, this is great. He 

can play what he s just heard!" But he knew how hard he had practiced 

that piece. He ran into his bedroom and just wept and wept, because 

they had thought he could play anything he d heard. I never could 
get him to play it again. Isn t that interesting? 


San Francisco Magazine 
September 1983 

"Adventure Is Life Itself 

Galen Rovxll s wilderness is never anything but a savage joy. 

WHO WOULDN T want to trade 
places with Galen Rowell? 
Traveling about four months 
each year, he has made ten mountain- 
climbing trips to Alaska and ten expedi 
tions to the high peaks of Asia in Nepal, 
India, Pakistan, China, and Tibet, as 
well as Canada, Africa, and the United 
States, particularly in the Sierra. "1 am 
not a professional mountaineer," he says, 
"because I don t get paid to climb." He 
makes his living as a free-lance writer- 
photographer, producing books, maga 
zine articles, and photographs for 
various purposes, including posters and 
calendars. Nearly a hundred of his pho 
tographs will be on exhibit at the Cali 
fornia Academy of Sciences beginning 
November 5. 

Rowell. born in Berkeley, quit his ten- 
year-old automotive business on San 
Pablo Avenue when he started being 
paid well by magazines for his writing 
and photography. "By 1971, 1 knew I d 
have to make a decision, so 1 sold my ga 
rage. Fortunately, things worked out 
well. I don t look back. I ve been lucky 
that I ve been able to choose my own di 
rections," he says. "I don t separate work 
from play, which has a good side and a 
bad side, as my wife will tell you. The 
only real success is in being able to spend 

your life in the way you choose." 

Not surprisingly, Rowell s way takes 
effort. He runs 5 to 1 5 miles a day, usual 
ly on hills, when he s not climbing. If 
you re not a jogger, you may wonder why. 
The answer is simple: There is no activity 
as physically demanding as mountain 
climbing. Climbing Mount McKinley in 
one day (Rowell s ascent took 19 hours) 
required the energy-equivalent of four 
marathons back to back. Climbing in the 
Himalayas has its own astounding 

As Rowell explains it, the Himalayas 

have geography that is expanded by hu- 

man frailty. A peak such as 29,000-foot 

Mount Everest is a great deal more than 
that in terms of climbing hours, and 
therefore, energy. At an altitude of 
1 0,000 feet, a climber may go 2,000 feet 
an hour; at 20,000 feet, 800 feet an hour; 
and at 29,000 feet without oxygen, fewer 
1 than 200 feet an hour. In terms of human 
effort. Mount Everest is really a 50,000- 
foot mountain. 

Is it worth it? The effort, the ex- 
pense $10,000 per climber for an 
; Everest attempt? How can you spend 
I such sums on a grown man s craving to 
\ climb a mountain with all the other 

needs in the world? 

Rowell has an answer. A relationship 

needs to be preserved, he feels, between 
! people and the world of the wild. Climb- 
! ing, Rowell s way, is more than just a test 
j of the ultimate macho man that some al- 
lege. It is, rather, an expression of the 
; need to preserve the remaining wilder- 
ness on the planet, its solitude, its natural 

cycles of growth and wildlife, its beauty; 
! he wants to share what he knows of this 

wilderness so that more people will care 

about its survival. 

as few people have, especially 
during an unprecedented ski 
traverse of the Karakoram Himalayas of 
Pakistan. It was late in the winter of 
1979-80. For 42 days, he and two other 
climbers, taking a 285-mile route on four 
of the largest glaciers in the Himalayas, 
used Nordic skis to carry 120-pound 
packs without porters at altitudes as 
. high as 22,500 feet. There was also a 
three-week ski circumnavigation of 
\ Mount McKinley with three compan 
ions. The "great ice mountain," consid- 
| ered the coldest 20,000-foot mountain 
i on earth, had never before been circled 
within the limits of its glacial system. 
The 90-mile route, entirely on the ice and 
snow of five glaciers, crossed three major 

"In high and wild places, adventure is 
life itself," Rowell says. But he brings it 
back, breathtaking shots of wilderness 
settings most of us will never see in per 
son, perspectives by which to measure 
our meager horizons. 

Even Rowell doesn t always reach the 
: summit, however. From March to May 
of this year, he led a small party in an 
attempt to climb the treacherous west 
ridge of Everest. Bad weather plus sick 
ness ended the ascent at about the 
26,000-foot level, but for Rowell there 
were rewards, including the shooting of 
1 40 rolls of film. For him, the wilderness 
is never the same, never dull, never any 
thing but a savage joy. 

M uch of it is shared with Barbara. Al 
though she doesn t always accompany 
him, Rowell s wife went with him last 

year to East Africa, where the two spent 
a month taking pictures. She also went to 
Nepal with him to direct the photogra 
phy for a commercial catalog while 
Rowell was making a first ascent on 
Cholatse. Then she accompanied him 
and Robert Redford (just the three of 
them) trekking in Nepal for a month to 
the base of Everest. ("Yes," says Rowell, 
"he s a good guy; bright, witty.") She 
also went to Tibet this year and "up to 
near 19,000 feet on Everest with a trek 
king group while I was climbing." 

Some of Rowell s presence of mind 
and sensitivity must have come from his 
parents. His father, who died in 1975 at 
age 90, was a uc Berkeley speech and 
philosophy professor. His mother, now 
82, is an internationally renowned cello 
teacher who still travels extensively. 
Margaret Rowell is a kind of legend by 
herself; once a concert performer, she 
contracted and recovered from tubercu 
losis to relearn her music and become a 
teacher. She may be the source of her 
son s tenacity as well. 

Galen Rowell, now 43, has made 
mountaineering, combined with his lit 
erary and photographic art, a successful 
business. He has two computers, full 
dual-disk models with word process 
ing one for writing, at his home in 
Berkeley, and one for Barbara and his 
photo researcher to use at his new office 
; in Albany. He is a good planner, well or 
ganized and exceptionally thorough. He 
has traveled enough to be able to make 
detached judgments of people and 
events. He has known danger, and the 
threatened loss of his life and the purify 
ing process it provides. His camera pro 
duces a visual poetry, but it is not so 
much his camera as his eye, and not so 
much his eye as his soul, that we are 




Rowell: The thing that I like about it that I m really not inwardly sorry 
that I had it this way. I don t know what I would do again. He 
has such a terrific love of music, and understanding of music. 
When I go on a trip with him he has those cassettes right there. 
He has the string quartets and the symphonies. When he climbed K2 
he had to have Beethoven s Ninth with him. He knows his symphonies 
better than I do. 

He has absolute pitch, so he can call me up and say, "Oh, 
Mother , I went to the movies last night and they had a cello 
playing the background. It was one of your Bach unaccompanied. 
I think it was your D-Minor Suite." Then he would start singing 
it absolutely in pitch to me and, yes, it would be the D-Minor 
Unaccompanied Suite. 

He really has a beautiful musical mind, and such a love of 
good classical music he enjoys other music, also, but he has such 
a love of good classical music that I have no regrets. I like to 
see a person enjoy music, really enjoy it, and I don t think they 
have to perform it. 

Riess: Well, I d imagine that for years everybody asked you, when he was 
young, what you were doing about all of that. So you probably 
developed a theory. 

Rowell: No. I don t think so. I see what a mother can do with her child. 
I don t know that I could have done it with him because he was 
really rambunctious. He was always running every place. Just so 
inquisitive about everything under the sun. And climbing, climbing, 
climbing. I have a friend who remembers when he was hanging on 
on the picture rail in the living room. She says he was still in 
creepers. I know that wasn t so, but he used to climb up the 
fireplace and sit there [on the mantel]. 

One of the things that he did I cannot understand yet at all; 
I still try to get him to explain to me and I can t understand it. 
We have a very steep backyard that goes right straight up to Grizzly 
Peak Boulevard. In fact, nobody can walk up there. Nobody has in 
years and years. But he started digging tunnels underneath. 
They go way back in, with deep rooms where he said he could have 
eight or ten kids back there with him. So every kid in town knows 
Galen s tunnels. They would go up into his tunnels. They went, 
really, quite far up in that hill. Why I didn t worry more about 
them, I don t know. And the digging that he had to do in order to 
get them, I can t understand! 

Riess: I m getting the impression that he really brought himself up. 


Rowell: I think he did a great deal. He read a great deal. By the time 
he was twelve he was so interested in rocks that it was an 
obsession with him. I don t know how that started. Of course, 
his father couldn t take him in the car, so I was the one who 
always took him, all sorts of places. 

Grizzly Peak Boulevard I can t drive it without thinking, 
"There s where I stopped the car and he would climb up that hill 
to get such and such a rock." I think that s where his climbing 
actually started, from his getting the minerals and letting himself 
down the side of those cliffs on the side of Grizzly Peak. I 
would say good-bye to him and sit in the car, and not see him til 
he came up again on the ropes. 

Riess: And you had every confidence that he knew what he was doing? 

Rowell: Well, no, not every confidence by any manner of means. I remember 
when Ed and I later drove him up to the Sierra, as we so often 
did, and here was oh, my sakes, what s the hill? Carson Hill, 
where there were just exactly the kinds of crystals that he wanted. 
You had to go down into a very great deep hole. When he got down, 
it was just one mass of rattlesnakes! He came up and told us 
about it. That I didn t like so well. 

We took him all over every place for those rocks. By the 
time he was twelve he had the Harvard Book of Geology and he knew 
it thoroughly. He could go out and name anything under the sun for 

Riess: Did he want to go on and become a geologist when he graduated from 
high school? 

Rowell: I don t think that was in his mind. He just wanted to know it all. 
It was when he graduated from high school, I guess, that he and I 
took a trip East and did collect so many rocks that we had to send 
home I don t know how many hundreds of pounds. I told you about 
that, didn t I? 

We sat on Christine Sanford s lawn. They were teaching at 
Vassar that year. They went out and got gunny sacks and we sent 
home hundreds and hundreds of pounds of rocks from there. Then 
we came on home, got more in our car, and broke an axle because 
the whole back of the car was loaded with them. [laughter] 

Riess: Where are they now? 

Rowell: Some of them are in the basement. I must show them to you sometime. 
Have you time now? 


Riess: At the end of this tape I d like to see that. You [also] wanted 
to read something that Ed had written to you from the hospital. 
But I want to do both of those things when we come to the end. 

Rowell: I must tell a most interesting part. We took him on a Sierra Club 
base camp trip when he was about nine years old and that really 
was the beginning of everything for him, I think. Of course, we d 
been to Yosemite so many times with him, and other places, but on 
that Sierra Club base camp trip, where he could go off on the trips 
with the leader himself, that s where he got interested in his 

We came very often on those Sierra Club trips. They would 
be two weeks long. We would hike in on a long, long hard day s 
hike particularly for Ed. It would be maybe forty or fifty people 
at least, sometimes more, in camp. We would all cook and do 
everything together, hike and so on. They had different kinds of 
hikes. They had plenty of long hikes, which Galen would go on, and 
plenty of hikes just right for me. If Ed didn t feel like going on 
the one that I went on, there was one for him. They called them 
Ambles, Rambles, and Scrambles for grandmothers, maiden aunts, 
etcetera. You could choose whatever hike you wanted for that day. 
Many days, of course, we just stayed in camp together. Galen 
was always on the run and always supervised. 

On our 1957 Sierra Club trip one of the four people who first 
climbed the face of Half Dome was one of our assistant cooks in 
camp. Before that year, the big Yosemite cliffs had never been 
climbed; no place in Yosemite like El Capitan or Half Dome had been 
climbed. Anybody who climbed Half Dome, to me, was a hero. I 
must have passed some of that on to Galen. 

I used to get up every morning at 4:30. I was the only person 
the head cook would let cook. He knew I loved to cook and he knew 
I loved to get up early. Nobody else would he ever let behind the 
stove, but I could. He would have the most delicious things for 
breakfast, always. Cinnamon snails with raisins in them, hot. 
Hundreds of them for breakfast. All sorts of the fanciest things. 
The chef was a very rich man from Los Angeles, with a great big 
home. That was his idea of a summer, to cook in the open for a gang! 

Apple pancakes were one of his things. He d tasted them at a 
restaurant near the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, and he went 
home and tried to make them, and didn t quite make them right. So 
he flew back to San Francisco to order them again to see exactly 
how they were made! [laughter] You can imagine the kind of a chef 
he was. 


Rowell: But this fellow who had climbed Half Dome I can t say his name at 
this moment, Galen will tell me [Jerry Galwas] was his assistant. 
When it came time to go back Galen was in high school then another 
climber on the staff [Mike Loughman] said he would take Galen 
back with him, cross country. That meant no trails of any kind, 
just going up and down over the mountains, the sixty miles or so to 

I was frightened. I just thought this was something! But 
in this fellow s hands, yes. So the two of them started off across 
the mountains. I, in fear and trembling, didn t hear a thing 
until I was to meet him at a Greyhound Bus depot , quite a number of 
days later, in Oakland. There he was, all by himself and able to 
do it. 

From then on he was a mountaineer. He loved the mountains 
and spent every conceivable moment that he had in them. Climbing 
was nothing to him after he d been on that trip. 

Ed s Last Thoughts 

Riess: Well, now you had some thoughts from Ed Rowell s last days that you 
wanted to get on tape? 

Rowell: I ll just read you a few of Ed s comments when I visited him in the 
convalescent hospital. You can take whatever you want out. 

I told him of Nicole s [his granddaughter] love of flowers 
and so on and he said, "Oh, is she my creation?" It s that choice 
of words that I think is so lovely. 

I said, "Governor Reagan is ruining college education." 
(You can tell when this was.) "They no longer can afford good 
people good professors so they have to get me." 

Ed said, "Now, don t emphasize that point too much. It might 
not be healthy." [laughter] 

I read to him what Drew Pearson wrote about Ronald Reagan, 
and Ed said, "I hate him." [Ronald Reagan] 

I said, "I do too." And he said, "Oh no, you couldn t, 
because I ve already used up all the hate in the world on him." 

Another time, I said, "How did you spend the night? And he 
said, "I spent it lying down." 


Rowell: Then, another time he said what I think is so true "Everyone 
should experience sickness." 

Once my car broke down on the way home from Stanford. I 
remember I just was beside myself, because I was going to be late 
and I spent every evening with him. So when I arrived, Ed was 
overjoyed to see me and he tried and tried to find words. Finally, 
in one burst, he said, "I can t collect enough English to convey to 
you how much I value your return." 

Isn t that something! He said that all in one burst, after 
not being able to say a word. This was when my friends thought that 
Ed was completely senile. I knew how much was inside his fine mind. 

April Mud Slide, 1958## 

Riess: What happened to Galen s tunnels? 

Rowell: In 1958 we had a terrific slide in the back. It was a time of 

great rains in Berkeley. It was in the afternoon. I was writing 
to the people who had bought our back lot and who were East , 
saying we had had terrific rains but not even a pebble had come 
down in our back. Just at that moment there was a great roar. I 
went out in time to see the whole thing rolling over and coming 
down our hillside. Our big crab apple tree, which was just 
beautiful, came right into our kitchen, broke the windows, and it 
stayed there and bloomed! [laughter] Along with it came enough 
mud to fill our whole back yard and just destroy everything. 

We were aghast! It was quite a while before the fire 
department got there. When they did they told us to move everything 
out of this living room that we possibly could all my instruments 
and the books, at least to the upper shelves. 

Galen immediately called all his friends over. We moved 
everything over to the Weilerstein s across the street, and waited 
for more to come down. 

Then the fire department said we had to get all that mud right 
out because it would break through the house. The neighbors all 
came to help. One of the neighbors I didn t even know, up on 
Latham Lane, ran a place for renting things for theatricals. They 
had a great big searchlight. They ran down to their establishment 
on Alcatraz, got that searchlight, and put it up on the roof so it 
shone down on the workers. The neighbors worked all night long 


Rowell: with that searchlight. It was freezing cold and here they were, 
in mud above their waists, trying to get it away from the windows 
so that it wouldn t break the house. I never can thank them enough. 

Riess: It sounds as much a nightmarish memory as the Berkeley fire. 
Rowell: Oh, no. The Berkeley fire was much worse. 

What did I do? What could I do. They were running around 
every place. Everybody needed hot coffee, hot gingerbread. I put 
everything I could think of in the oven, just putting it in and 
out, in and out, passing it out the windows. It was really a time 
to remember. Those neighbors, and of course the firemen when they 
got here, they really saved the place. 

Riess: And what about those tunnels? 

Rowell: Well, Dr. Einstein, Albert Einstein s son I think I told you, 
didn t I, he lived right above us here? 

Riess: No. 

Rowell: Oh, I didn t? He played piano with me. He came down afterwards 

to look at it, and he said that he thought that Galen s tunnels 

probably saved that side from ruin, because it deflected the water 

from coming right down on top. The left-hand side, where Galen s 
tunnels were, was not touched. 

It just tore out all our trees. We had pear trees, and apple, 
and crab apple, and we had two hundred different kinds of iris 
there that Salbach had given my husband. Gorgeous things. 

Riess: Salbach? Who s that? 

Rowell: The Salbach gardens here. Do you remember the chief librarian of 
the UC Library who was such a gardener? Sydney Mitchell. I have 
a book by him here. You must remember. The two of them used to 
give Ed everything for our garden. Those two hundred different 
varieties of iris just all went away. We ve never been able to get 
up on that hillside since then. At that time it was terraced and 
had all sorts of things on it, but it has never had anything on it 
since then. It wasn t until I tasted rhubarb this year that I 
realized what a wonderful rhubarb crop we had right out by our 
window here. It has never been replanted. That was April 1958, 
really quite a while ago. 

With that mud piled they thought that the foundation would 
be gone. But Ed had had it built so well that the stone wall on 
the back, when they finally got to it, wasn t even cracked. It s 


Rowell: there right exactly now as it was. The only way they could get 
the dirt out was to put it on a conveyor belt that would run it 
from the back, clear around the house, and dump it into dump 
trucks out on the street. So they did that. It was June before 
they finished. 

That happened in April 1958 and Galen and I were going to 
call off our trip across the country because of the great expense 
of all of this. Ed said, "Expenses? What of expenses? We ve 
got lots of them. Go ahead." [laughter] That was Ed 1 expression, 
which I thought was simply delightful, that way he would turn 
things. So he insisted that we go on. 

Duets With Dr. Einstein 

Riess: So you had an Einstein in your backyard. 

Rowell: Dr. Einstein, yes. His father Albert, as you know, was a very 

fine musician, played the violin. This son, Hans Albert Einstein, 
played the piano. He lived directly behind us. We met at an 
afternoon tea, and he said, "Oh, we ve got to play together. So 
he would come down every Tuesday morning, probably for fifteen 
years, off and on, and we would play Beethoven or Brahms, or 
something. Ed loved that. We started playing together in the 
early 1950s, and stopped with Ed s hospitalization, but then 
continued to the end of his life. 

We often picnicked together in the Berkeley hills. I remember 
one special time when the sun sank over the Golden Gate as the moon 
rose over Mt. Diablo. And his daughter would run down from their 
house, down our back steps to play with Galen. Dr. Einstein died in 
1973. He collapsed after he gave a lecture in July, in Wood s Hole, 
Massachusetts, and died. I had to arrange the music for the 
services at The Faculty Club. 

What I loved playing the most with him was the Brahms lieder 
and the Schubert lieder that his father had always had. He knew 
that German lieder as nobody I have ever seen. I would read the 
vocal parts, sitting there with him, and every time we had one that 
he had been taught as a child, he would be absolutely different 
you could just tell by his back. 

I d say, "Tell me the words." We had more fun doing that 
than almost anything else. I told Paul Rolland later about that. 
He said, "Margaret, just take some of that and publish it." But 
I never have. Somebody should publish volumes of that for the cello. 


Rowell: When Leonard Rose played at the Rostropovich Congress in 

Washington, B.C. this summer, for his encore he came out and 
played "Du Bist die Ruhe" of Schubert. That s just one of those 
many, many songs that makes a beautiful cello solo. It so 
happens that David Popper arranged that for cello many years ago, 
but it could be done by anybody today. I ve always been going to 
have the time to do it and I ve never done it. 

Riess: Did you sing along when you were playing with him? 

Rowell: Me? [laughter] 

Riess: I know! But I thought I might catch you in the moment. 

Rowell: No. But those are songs and the cello has to sing. There s no 
other way of doing them except to phrase them and "sing" them 
exactly that way. To see Dr. Einstein s back begin to move in 
that rhythm that was just the rhythm of the song meant so much to 
me. We used to have a wonderful time together. 

Thelma Ye 11 in* 

Rowell: You asked about Thelma Yellin some place. 
Riess: Yes, I did. 

Rowell: Thelma Yellin, a fine cellist from Israel, came into my life 

through my Womens International League for Peace and Freedom, to 
which I gave energy and time. She had friends in Santa Barbara 
who contacted me. Her brother, Norman Bentwich, was the first 
attorney general for Israel. He and his wife, Lord and Lady 
Bentwich, came to visit Ed and myself and I have pictures of us 
together. Thelma had studied at the Royal Academy in London and 
later with Casals whom she adored. She had already lost her 
husband when I met her, but it was my good fortune to get to know 
more of her illustrious family. 

Her sister Margery came and lived with us for at least six 
months, and was a great addition to our family. She had been a 
very fine violinist and brought her violin with her. Her first 
main teacher was Eugene Ysaye; the second one, Fritz Kreisler. 

* [recorded October 24, 1983] 


Rowell: (I am told by other members of the family that he fell in love with 
her.) Her last teacher was Leopold Auer. She would come down from 
her bedroom and sit and watch me teach. Once in a while she would 
play with our neighbor Bernard Abramowitsch, and on a couple of 
occasions I brought out my cello and we played trios. She had a 
rare beautiful violin and a beautiful tone. 

This is a real era, a whole era in my life. Margery was here 
when Galen was about two, I guess, and stayed practically a year. 
Everybody was starving over there [Jerusalem], and she couldn t get 
over the fact that people took transportation here. She d put on 
her tennis shoes she was I would say in her seventies then and 
run down to the campus for something, and then run back up. If she 
had half a piece of bread she would stick it up in my cupboard 
not in the refrigerator, but in the cupboard and say, "That s for 
tomorrow." She was so used to saving every little crumb of anything, 
and not eating too much. She was very thin. But a more lovely 
woman I never had in my home. I just adored her. 

Thelma was a more elgant person; Margery was just somebody 
you d put your arms around and love, and Thelma was a real cellist. 
She came on a concert tour really, and I arranged the concert at 
the Piano Club. I have all the programs and everything else for 
that. She was a good cellist. She wasn t a great cellist. But 
she was a lovely human being. 

Then there was a third sister, Carmel Forsythe. Carmel is the 
one that I still see. I just got a letter from her last week. 
Carmel comes to vist me each summer from Maine. She has an extra 
ordinary history. She was the pianist of the family. She married 
Rabbi [Louis] Finkelstein, president of the Jewish Theological 
Seminary, and they had several children. She found, as a housewife, 
the laws of the Orthodox Jewish faith too binding. She was gradually 
shifting to Christian Science. The food, the preparation, the huge 
number of dishes in the cupboards seemed too artificial for her, 
and she finally shocked her family by leaving her husband. Of 
course she was ex-communicated or whatever they do , and declared 
dead on the books by the synagogue. She has an excellent relation- 
ship today with her children and their children. She is in the 
process now (I spoke to her on the phone today) of writing the 
history of her sister Margery s life. She says that the happiest 
time in Margery s life was here in Berkeley. 

They re just a remarkable family. Each one writes a book about 
the other one. They ve kept all my letters and are putting them in 
some book they re writing now! [laughter] 

I wish people didn t keep [borrowed] books, because I don t 
know where the books are that they ve written. 


Worrying, Sharing Experiences with Friends 
[Interview 7: October 25, 1982] 

Rowell ; 


Of course I worry about Galen, every time he s gone, 
say, "I would be doing it if I could." 

But I always 

I read High and Wild last night, most of it, including the episode 
where he falls with Ned Gillette and loses his teeth and rips open 
his chin. 



Rowell : 




I tell you, that was terrible, and the way it got to me was that 
his head had been cracked open! That was the way it came down to 
me, when they rushed him into the hospital and so on. Then I found 
out it was only that the lip was split wide open on each side, 
flying back like this. 

How there was that one little rope, out of the snow! That 
was just really a terrific miracle, to have that rope that he 
could reach out and grab. Nobody will ever know why it was there. 

If there were any question I would raise about High and Wild , it is 
why Galen didn t let himself go in terms of being the philosopher 
that he could be. You say it s a miracle that this and that 
happened. Why doesn t he? Isn t he a philosopher? 

I think so, but he isn t a preacher. My husband was a preacher, 
but Galen isn t. He leaves all that to your imagination. He can t 
stand the sentimental of any kind. He just doesn t use it. 

Oh, you re getting this down? 


I think this is interesting. He feels very deeply but he doesn t 
express it as his father would have. His father, as you know, 
loved to write and was a philosopher, and had that philosophical 
trend of turning things that way. I would say Galen almost avoids 
it. He expresses himself beautifully in words, and leaves that other 
to you to imagine. 

I think people would say, "How does she stand it? 
all the time?" 

Doesn t she worry 

I worry terribly. You just ask Galen. He gets disgusted with me. 
After three weeks on an expedition when I haven t heard, and I m 
sure I should have heard, then I worry. If it s a place like K2 or 
some place where I know they never get any messages out, there s no 
way, why then I know I have to wait a couple of months. 


Rowell: The terrible part about it is that I usually worry at the right 
time. Almost always it has been at some time when he has been 
in a great deal of trouble or given out of food, or something 
like that. I ll just see him out there, as I did the time he was 
going around K2 and doing all that. I saw where they were having 

On K2 I knew. My friends would come and sit with me at night 
just to help me through certain times, when I hadn t heard for a 
long time, and when I heard I knew that he was not well. He did 
have pneumonia, which you don t like to have at a high elevation. 
They had to pull him down. 

I know how to worry, really worry. But it s very seldom 
because, as I say, there s nothing in the world I would rather do 
than to be able to do what he s doing. 

I listened in this morning, while I was dressing, to the 
marathon running in New York. I thought, no. I love the idea of 
doing it, but I would not want to run a twenty-six mile marathon. 
I would want to be hiking along the trails and seeing everything. 

That s Galen too. He found that out quite early. He took 
a very dear friend of his, a wonderful skier, on one of his trips. 
They had so much in common and they were going to spend time really 
out in the wilds, with snow and ice all the time. Galen was so 
disappointed, because when he s traveling and he sees something 
while we re going along down the mountainside, he wants to go down 
and investigate. He s his father and grandfather in that. The 
other boy, of course, being a skier, wanted to keep right on skiing 
right to the destination. 

I have very much of that in me. If I see a flower, or if I 
see something else, I ll stop anytime and investigate it. He wanted 
to see what kind of a tree that was, what kind of a trunk this was, 
and the other person would get disgusted at their not keeping to 
their goal. I think that makes it very hard for Galen sometimes, 
when he s with a partner who he enjoys but can t experience that 

It s like two people married, where there are just things 
that upset them a little bit. I can see where Galen would very 
much upset somebody who had his goal to get right ahead skiing, and 
then have somebody want to go down to see what a tree trunk s like. 

Riess: Yes. It s nice to be able to share that. When you are taking 
your trips, you like to go with somebody, don t you? 


Rowell : Yes. You know, I love people and yet I find I am very solitary. 
(I think Galen is too, to quite an extent.) Isn t that funny? 
I m just finding it out more now. Finding out, for instance, that 
I have no longing I m sorry to say this to go to the finest 
retirement place in the world, where I ll be surrounded with people, 
three meals a day. Lovely people, wonderful people. I would rather 
just eat my little soup out in the kitchen. 

Riess: But, Margaret, the world comes to you. 

Rowell: No. 

Riess: Well, I mean so many interesting people are coming to you. 

Rowell: No, I love being solitary. I jumped in my car night before last 
and ran down to the Oakland Ballet. Bonnie Hampton had given me 
two tickets. She was playing for it. I was teaching all day, so 
I didn t get a chance to call. When I began calling everybody, 
could I find anybody that wanted to go with me? 

But I wouldn t hesitate a moment. I enjoy going to things 
alone. When I got down there? "You drove your car down, and you 
came alone? Oh, no!" And I said, "Why not? I love to sit in the 
theater." I really enjoy experiencing things in the solitary, as 
well as with friends. Now, I think I said that to some of my 
friends and I think they immediately had the wrong idea about me. 
I love to be with them. 

Another thing I said was that I didn t usually make long, 
long conversations over the telephone with friends. And I don t. 
I think I was brought up in the New England style, that after three 
minutes you begin to think what you re doing. But all my friends 
visit on the phone a half hour or three-quarters of an hour with 
their friends. I couldn t do that. A whole group of my very 
closest friends had a discussion for the first time on this. I find 
out now they don t call me [laughter], because they think I don t 
like to be called. 

I love to be telephoned! You know I do. I jump up and answer. 
I never think of cutting off my telephone. But I tend not to have 
that nice long conversation. Many of my friends say they have forty- 
five minute conversations with their children or somebody in the 
East. They do it regularly. And I can see that it would be good. 
I don t tend to use the phone that way. I think I will have to, at 
my age, start in doing it. 

Riess: [laughter] No, you don t, you don t have to change at all. 



Goals in Teaching 

Riess: A friend of yours, Mary Flanders, said, "You know, the most amazing 
thing about Margaret is that her technique keeps changing. She 
keeps teaching a new way. She goes off to some workshop and she 
comes back with something new." 

I said, "That doesn t sound like her to me." 

Rowell: I don t think I ve changed. This is very interesting because, 

you see, I did start her husband [Ned Flanders] at nine years of 
age, when I was in my twenties. Probably, at that stage of the 
game, I taught very much the way I had been taught, which is a 
very good way, but I call it old-fashioned. 

Riess: Workmanlike? 

Rowell: Very workmanlike. You teach the first position and you keep them 
there for at least a year, or something like that. (I wasn t kept 
that way at that particular time.) Then you learn the fourth 
position, and then you learn how to connect those two positions. 
This is a very good way of learning. 

Where I differ from that is not at all in the coming back to 
that absolute carefulness of finding everything, but is in giving 
the student the picture of the overall first. I compare that to 
a jigsaw puzzle. If you have five pieces if you re five years old, 
or a hundred pieces if you re ten years old, to put together, if 
there are some pieces that are just, say, a solid tan or something 
very uninteresting, you don t throw them away, because you know they re 
of value and you know you re going to find exactly the right place 
to put them in. In that right place, it s just as important as 
the most brilliantly colored piece in that jigsaw puzzle. 


Rowell: It is that whole before the parts that I want every child to see, 
and to feel with their body, with their hands. If they can get 
that feel of going up and down the strings and being just as 
comfortable in those upper regions as the lower regions being 
just as comfortable in what I would call eighth or ninth position 
as in first position. 

It would be like a child being just as comfortable living on 
this hillside as living down in the flats. The fact that I have 
to climb up and down here every day in my car doesn t bother me at 
all. People say, "Oh, how can you take it?" Well, I just don t 
think about it, because if you re familiar with it you do it 
easily. I see my hands like rubber tires in a car and I m in 
that car driving it. It can go anyplace with the rubber tires. 
The minute I slam down with heavy steel or put on the brakes, I m 

I want every child to get the feel of the instrument itself, 
the contact of the fingers with the strings, being a supple 
suction and not a hard brittle contact. If you start them that way, 
then they don t go through periods of tension. Then, when you come 
back to a very careful first position, they see how that fits into 
the whole. They re much more likely to be willing to practice hard 
on it, wanting it to be perfect, in order to go on to the next ones 
that you connect with it. 

Every single time they come, every child, every adult, sits 
down there and does their one-finger scales up the full length of 
the whole string, experiencing playing in tune with beautiful 
tone before they start in playing anything else. But then they play 
very carefully what they play. 

The Master Class Experience 

Riess: Over the years, you ve gone to various summer institutes, and 
come in contact with some great master cellist/performers, and 
learned something every time. How do you incorporate this? 

Rowell: Oh, you do. You learn from the master performers by looking at 
them, not by what they say, because very few of the master 
performers are very great teachers. For coaching you on the beauty 
of the music, yes, but most great performers are so natural that 
they don t necessarily teach. 


Rowell: Casals would never take a student even. He would never take a 

beginner, of course. They had to be very, very much of a complete 
cello player before he would accept them for anything. Then he 
would work and work with them. I would say the same with 
Rostropovich. They are great interpreters of music; that s where 
their greatness lies. 

I m afraid I haven t attended as many [as I d have liked]. I 
go to all those summer things, but I m always teaching in them 

Riess: Did you play for Rostropovich or Casals? 
Rowell: No, I didn t. 

Riess: I knew the answer to that. You really had stopped being a performer 
long before you came in contact with those people. You might 
have gotten something wonderful out of it , or not , do you think? 

Rowell: Performing myself? No. I don t think so. You see, I was never 
at my best performing for other people. (Trio was something 
different.) I loved music so terrifically, and I find that in my 
own students, very much. Some of my students who, to me, are the 
most beautiful in their cello playing are always terrifically 
nervous when they play. Other ones aren t. It isn t necessarily 
this way, but some of them are that way. 

I begin to understand it. You have a feeling that you could 
never, never come up to your own standards of what you want to 
hear. Some people are perfectly satisfied with what they hear 
when they play. They re perfectly satisfied with it. I have to 
watch out for them, because then they can t go ahead. If they 
make a few mistakes they say, "Oh, what of it! Casals makes 
mistakes." And maybe he does, but I want them to grow in their 
realization of what they can express. 

Bonnie Bell Hampton 

Rowell: But with me and with some of my students that I understand so 

completely I think Bonnie is one of them they never can completely 
come up to what they know they can do musically. There s where 
I think if you have that musical goal of really making the music 
mean something to the person who s hearing it, you have to be 
absolutely free of fear. And you have to be free of everything else, 
because you have to enter into the music and not your playing, not 
yourself. But this is very hard to do in front of an audience. 


Riess: That s interesting. After all, if Bonnie s not comfortable 

Rowell: Oh, she is. I watched her play the other night for the Oakland 

Ballet. But I ve watched her through the years. She goes through 
many different periods. She still is in one. Bonnie reminds me of 
a painter, a Picasso, with an early period, a blue period, pink 
period, and this and that. Now she s very much in her modern 
period, doing almost entirely moderns when she gives concerts, as 
she did at Carnegie Hall last year. It was almost entirely modern. 

Some of her periods are very beautiful periods. Some of them, 
like the moderns, I say, "Oh, I m not so sure." Sometimes I ve 
wished there was some of the old in it too, as I do in Picasso. 
But I think she probably has explored more cello music than any 
other cellist I know in this country. 

Riess: Did she start with you? 

Rowell: Yes. Well, she took a few lessons from Mary Claudio, but then she 
left it off entirely. So I would say I started her, at nine years 
of age. Her mother had brought her up to my home at two years of 
age and sat her down on this rug and said, "You re going to teach 
her some day." I remember that very well. I did, and I enjoyed 
her from the very start. 

She had had piano from Mr. Alexander Raab, a very fine pianist 
who d come over from Vienna to teach in Berkeley. So she had an 
excellent background of that. She was almost too facile. She 
had the type of fingers that could really work on that instrument. 
I had to get her more solid and more into the instrument rather 
than, as I do with most people, teaching them flexibility. 

She wanted to play , and she had a mother who wanted her to 
play very much, who was always right there. So she did appear very 
early in things. When she was eleven and twelve she was playing 
beautiful solos. At thirteen she dedicated the Berkeley Community 
Theater with the Saint Saens concerto, with the orchestra, and did 
a beautiful job of it. She soloed with the San Francisco Symphony 
about the same time. She progressed rapidly. I always had to watch 
out to keep her with a basic security. 

Very early I wanted her to work with Casals. I was so anxious. 
We went five years without hearing from Casals. At the time of the 
Spanish [Civil] War he had fled Spain and would not go back, and 
nobody knew where he was living. The first indication that I had 
that he was alive was when Professor [Rudolph] Schevill phoned me 
and said, "I ve just had a letter from Casals and he is alive." That 
was the first person in the United States to get a letter, as far 



Rowell : 

Rowell : 


as I know. That was so exciting. Casals was my hero. All I 
could think of was getting Bonnie over to him, because nobody 
had heard him play yet. 

Bonnie was your star at that point? 

Well, she had advanced rapidly. I had several who were playing 
very well at that time. Bonnie had a young friend who was in the 
same grade that she dragged home and said, "This kid plays cello 
too, and you have to teach her." So I taught Ellen Odhner. The 
two of them really were just wonderful together. Ellen didn t 
have the background that Bonnie had, but the two of them played 
duets together they did everything together and progressed 
together. They are very good friends right to this day. 

Bonnie, I think a year or so ago, grabbed Ellen and said, 
"We ll give a concert together," and they gave a concert together 
down at Unitarian Fellowship where we always held Cello Club. Of 
course, everybody came to it. They played duets, they played 
solos, they did everything. 

Ellen just played beautifully. She earns her living playing 
in San Francisco. She has raised a family. I think she s had two 
or three mariages and I don t know how many children, whom she 
adores. She works at night in a theater so she has all day with 
her children, and she loves it. 

But Bonnie is something very special, musically. It is the 
deep musicianship of Bonnie which shows through. No matter which 
period she s in, she s always extremely musical. As a coach also. 
Now, she is one who has learned to be a teacher. At first when you 
are a wonderful player you are able to coach very well, but you 
don t necessarily teach the technical ways of getting to be able 
to do what you want to do. But Bonnie in the last few years has 
developed into a simply magnificent teacher and coach, and player, 
and a beautiful human being. I wish she d think more of herself, 
but she s always thinking of other people and doing too much for 

What happened about Casals? 

Oh, yes. 

Her mother went with her. 
but I think she was. 

She may not have even been fifteen yet, 


Rowell: I gave her the G-Minor Beethoven Sonata we d been working on. Of 
all things to take without a piano part or without a pianist or 
anything else! To sit down and play a note, "bum," and then wait 
two measures and then go "bum-ba-dee-da-dum" is not the way to play. 
And we got ready in such a hurry that I didn t feel that she was 
really prepared. I did worry about it. 

I think that Casals felt very much the same way. He felt that 
she was very talented but that she needed much more preparation to 
come to him. I m not surprised at all. She did come back and work 
very, very hard. She s been back to him so many times, as you know, 
and stayed over a whole year, and then gone to Puerto Rico, where 
she was on the first stand year after year for his big concerts in 
the summertime. She shared the first stand with Leslie Parnas , who 
is one of our great cellists of this era. 

I would say that I am proud of Bonnie Hampton as a human 
being, first, and then as a wonderful musician. If she were just 
a musician I would have others, too. But it s that combination 
that sets her apart from everybody else, as it did Casals. 

Riess: When she came back from these times with Casals, could you see what 
was new and different? 

Rowell: Not technically at all, because he does not teach technique in the 

Riess: But, I mean, in her interpretation? 

Rowell: I don t know. You don t see those things instantly. Do you see 
what I mean? 

Riess: Would she be able to tell you, when she came back, what she had 

Rowell: That isn t necessary. But she was inspired. 
Riess: I m trying to demystify the process. 

Rowell: I think all those things are internal. It s what you get from 

being with that human being. Now, Casals does play a great deal 
for his students, or always did. Surely, hearing him play, you 
want to copy that marvelous quality, which is fine. You go through 
that period just as an artist does. It s a very marvelous period. 

Riess: And when she comes up to you, as she continues to over the years, 
what is she now looking for from you? 


Rowell: Well, what I try to give is just the solid basis of playing. I 

want to give a student the whole feeling for the instrument, knowing 
the instrument inside out, being able to do anything you want to 
on it. If they want to play double forte, they can play double 
forte without scratching. If they want to play triple piano, they 
can play triple piano without just whispering, still have contact 
with the string . I want to answer all these things for them so 
that they themselves can grow into the artist they want to. 

I m different from other teachers in that most teachers do 
have them copy measure for measure the way you do it. I want to 
give the students the tools to work with, the means. That s what 
I m working with them on all the time. Sometimes they get a little 
bit exasperated because, I think, I overdo the thing of giving 
them the tools rather than having them copy the beautiful music. 
I would rather have the music almost imperfect at the beginning and 
have them struggling through to get what they want, as an artist 
would on paper. Give them the techniques so that eventually they 
can have their own style. 

Now, that s what I ve seen with Bonnie Hampton. She doesn t 
play like anybody else. One of the wonderful things I love is that 
none of my students play alike. If you were to take my two students 
who are at the conservatory , Bonnie Hampton and Renie Sharp , I 
would say they were as different as black and white from each other 
in their approach to exactly the same piece. And yet I am very 
happy with the way they both do it. I can go to a concert by one 
of them and sit back and enjoy it. I can go to a concert by the 
other one and sit back and enjoy it. 

Riess: That s very interesting. You say that Bonnie still comes up to 

play for you. I was asking what she is looking for from you now. 

Rowell: Oh, well, we all want another ear, as an artist wants another eye. 
We want an inner ear to listen to us, and also just to play for us. 
It is very seldom I have anything to really say to her. If I don t 
like where she takes something, or I think something isn t 
rhythmically right there or something, of course I would tell her. 
But that s very seldom. 

With Renie it s a different matter, because Renie has taken 
from me consistantly during the last twenty years. I can tell her 
much more than I would ever think of telling Bonnie, I think. 


Paul Tobias 

Riess: Have your women students, as a group, been more satisfying? 

Rowell: No. I would say I ve probably taught more men. Paul Tobias is 
one, of course. I taught him and he still keeps coming back. 
Whenever he has something new, like the Prokofiev Symphony 
Concertante, which I don t know, he comes and spends almost a 
week learning it and then goes and plays it with some symphony. 

Riess: I couldn t get you to generalize about women versus men? 
Rowell : No , not at all . 

Riess: Well, let s talk more about Paul Tobias and other individual 

Rowell: I think it s wonderful to talk about the individuals, because I 
enjoy each one of my students. I enjoy those who don t go on to 
become professionals just as much as those who do. 

Paul Tobias I have enjoyed very much because he had an innate 
talent that is right there. It is the kind of a talent that I 
respect so much. It isn t just facility, running around on the 
instrument. It s something very clear and deep. I wish I could 
think of all the people that he has been compared to. Among the 
cellists they say he s nearest to Emmanuel Feuermann, of whom you 
may not have heard. Emmanuel Feuermann died in, I think, 1940. 

Paul is very clear. His mind is a mind that remembers 
remarkably the whole thing, the phrase, the quality and everything 
at once. We laugh now. He says he didn t really practice that 
much. But he memorized so quickly that he had everything almost 
by memory. 

Very early there was the International Musicians Congress of 
Strings. Each union could send one student to the orchestra. I 
think he went four different years for San Francisco. 

Riess: The local union judged the competition? 

Rowell: Yes. Before he won it, the first year I sent him to try out, I 
was shocked: I knew he played beautifully; I had no doubt in 
sending him over to try out , but the concert master of the symphony 
called me back afterwards and he said, "Well, Margaret, Paul 
astounded us, he played so beautifully. Then we put the orchestra 
parts up there for him to read and he didn t read them well at all. 
So, we can t send him." 


Rowell: I was utterly crushed. This shows not what a good teacher I was, 
but what a good teacher I wasn t! What was happening was that he 
took anything and memorized it as soon as he learned it, so that 
he didn t have to read it. All the time he looked as if he were 
reading notes, he was really playing from memory. While it was a 
wonderful thing and has stood him in very good stead through the 
years, I had to develop the other side of him. 

I did it in the most peculiar way. I had a lot of horrible 
cello music in what I call my "horror room," where I keep everything 
because I can t stand to throw a piece of music away. In the old 
KGO days, I sometimes had to play a solo every day. I was always 
running to Sherman and Clay to find out what the new solos were. 
I ve never taken a piece of music out on approval. That is, I take 
it out on approval, but I never return it. I think for every ten 
of those solos there were nine that I would never play in the world, 
they were so bad. I had them piled up in my horror room. 

What I would do would be to take a pile of that music, not 
let him glance at it, and give it to Paul s father who used to 
bring him over from San Francisco every week for his lesson, and who 
played the piano himself. Paul was to play one of those straight 
through, without stopping, and then not look at it again, and then 
play the next one, bring that pile back and I d give them a new 
pile the next week. I really think [that] through that he got to 
really learn to read music. I had to get music he never had heard 

I knew he could do it. I knew it was simply getting the ear 
tuned to that printed note, to his cello, and that was all. He had 
the ear through to his cello, without the printed note. When he 
had a printed note up there that he didn t know what it was and he 
had to connect it with those two, he soon could. 

He went to the competition the next year. He went every 
year after that and enjoyed it tremendously. 

Digression: Music for the Cello 

Riess: Just a quick tangent. Who writes all this horrible cello music? 
What are these little solo pieces? They were designed for 


Rowell: There s so much written now. There was so little available for 

the cello in those early days. Now, in the last twenty years the 
cello literature has developed terrifically, in many ways. There 
are more arrangements than there were Brahms songs , and Schubert . 

But there is also what I would call trash, written by people 
especially of the sentimental era of music in the early 1900s. 
Some are not easy, but I don t call them beautiful pieces of music, 
not music that I would want my students to spend time on though 
I would just as soon that they spend some time on those as on some 
of the etudes. I consider them historical rather than of value. 
Let me say that they belong to that period. 

I ve seen the eras change so. When I first started the cello, 
oh, the music was so totally different. You played the "Berceuse" 
from Jocelyn for a cello solo. You played "The Evening Star" from 
Tannha\iser. You played all sorts of things. These were written 
as cello solos and you played them. "The Rosary." Oh yes, I used 
to play all sorts of things, as well as the things written by 
cellists, like the perpetual motion pieces and all of those. 

Even those I don t give to my students to play in public, but 
I give them instead of etudes the "Scherzo" of Van Goens. I don t 
like it now because I think it s terribly dated, but it s a nice 
little fast piece and I find students like it. I wouldn t want 
them to put it on their programs , but I love to have them learn it 
because it teaches them so much. 

Riess: It sounds like the kind of music you re describing is just 
transcription from piano music. 

Rowell: No. There s just loads of it written for original cello. 
Riess: Well, like "The Evening Star" from Tannhauser. 

Rowell: Well, yes. Like that. Those things are, but there was just loads 
written. I just had a piece in there this morning when I was 
looking through, a lovely piece that I like very much, that I 
haven t heard lately, "Air" by Hure, an English person. That 
was played very much in my young days. I pull it out to try to get 
my students to play it today, but they won t. It s a beautiful 
piece. I first got it from the London String Quartet. 

Riess: We talked once, before we started interviewing, about why the cello 

had become popular. I was wondering what this kind of music had 

to do with it? Is the cello literature just a replication of piano 


Rowell: No. Cello has its own music so much, now. More is written for 
cello today than you can possibly imagine. I m just kept busy. 
I think my first real taste of modern music written for cello was 
the eleven years I taught at San Francisco State. There I came 
across the young composers writing for cello, coming in with the 
most difficult things, almost impossible to play 1 thought at that 
time. By old standards it was impossible to play. 

Riess: Because of the phrasing or what? 

Rowell: It went all over the instrument, scooting up on the lower strings 
and doing everything under the sun. Lots of thumb position, lots 
of double stops, lots of everything, as the young composers would 
do without much thought of a melodic thing much more a technical 
thing. They would come in and in three weeks I d have to get them 
ready to play these very difficult pieces. They d have to play 
the new work for a big convention of music educators in San Diego 
or some place. It was exciting, and I still love to get my hands 
on music that has never been played. 

I found it very stimulating, and I still do, to take those 
compositions that I ve never seen before and work them out with 
students. I get a huge kick out of it and I think they do too. It 
happens that I don t necessarily prefer that music, but I love to 
dig it out and really teach it, and get them to fit it to the 
instrument. It s a real challenge. 

I think the greatest challenge I ve had is the Imbrie concerto 
for cello and orchestra. That was the greatest challenge, to have 
a student whom I did not think was that advanced, at UC she s 
not even five feet, and she must weigh not over ninety pounds, and 
she has the littlest hands I ve ever seen for her to try to play 
this huge concerto that must last a half an hour and goes all over 
the instrument, double stops and everything that, to me, is 
"uncellistic. " I call it a very uncellistic piece, but it was a 
challenge. We took it on and I don t know when I ve ever enjoyed 
anything more. 

Riess: I wonder if one would have more difficulty memorizing modern music 
than old? 

Rowell: Yes and no. 

Riess: It doesn t make any difference? 

Rowell: You may have heard of Penderecki? Paul Tobias played the Penderecki 
Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, with [Kyzysztof] Penderecki 
conducting. Then he played, of course, the Bernstein with Bernstein 
conducting. I wish I could think of some of the other modern composers, 



Rowel 1 ; 

Rowell : 

Riess : 
Rowell ; 

I don t mean whether he could do it or not. I m thinking about 
the ease of memorizing things that don t have a singing melody. 

This is what I mean. Of course Paul memorized it. He memorizes 
everything. He was here a couple of weeks ago with me for the full 
week. The very last day I said, "Oh, Paul, the thing I loved to 
hear you play is the Schubert Arpeggione. You always played that 
so beautifully." 

He said, "Margaret, I haven t touched it in five years." 
I said, "Before you go, just play it for me." 

He took out his cello, sat down, and he played all of that, 
the whole thing from the beginning to the end without stopping, and 
it was absolutely incredibly beautiful. He was in the best of 
form, of course, because he d just been practicing hours. Not a 
note of it where he had to stop and ponder or anything, either for 
memory or for technique. 

Or feeling. 

Yes. And that, I think, is one of the hardest pieces to play on 
the cello. But it s all right there with him. I think it was 
about sixteen concertos I saw the list that he said he had ready 
to play at any time. Three he d have to have two weeks notice on. 
[laughter] That s the way he goes around. 

Paul is a wonderful human being and he s getting on to 
himself now, much more able to live with himself than he has been. 
He s got two sides inside of him and they re always fighting. But 
he s much more whole than he ever has been. If he can, he will 
do beautifully. He will enjoy living. He s got a beautiful wife 
and he s very good to her. They enjoy living together. They enjoy 
taking vacations. They enjoy taking walks. They enjoy going to 
the fish market or the vegetable market together. They enjoy doing 
things together, which I think is just remarkable for a musician, 
not wishing he was home practicing. 

Yes. I often wonder about musicians, "How are they to live with?" 

Paul hasn t always been easy, and he knows it. 
still developing. So, we ll wait and see.* 

But I think he s 

*I have just spent several days with them in New York and I ve never 
felt more completely at home with a couple who seem to have a real 
giving marriage. It s great growth on Paul s part. His future is 
ahead of him. [M. Rowell] 


Cathy Allen, Scott Kluksdahl, Gerard Leclerc; William Pleeth, 
Leonard Rose, Pierre Fournier 

Riess: Who else have you sent to Casals, other than Bonnie? 

Rowell: No one to Casals. That s the only time I ve ever simply packed 

somebody up and sent them off with a ticket. However, Cathy Allen, 
who did the Imbrie concerto, got the Hertz Scholarship this year. 
Just this last Monday I sent her off to England. There she will 
study with William Pleeth, to whom I wrote. Pleeth taught Jacqueline 
Du Pre, whom I think is one of the greatest cellists who ever 
lived . 

I sent her off, almost in fear and trembling, because he is 
such a coach and not a teacher, and I m not sure she s absolutely 
ready for him yet. She left in the morning. She was here at six 
o clock the night before. The next afternoon my telephone rang and 
there was my dearest friend in London, Eileen Palmer, who said, 
"Well, I ve got your girl right here." She was being put up by my 
friend. I think she s going to do very well. 

Riess: In an arrangement like that with Pleeth, is it the teacher who 
makes the contact and writes the letters? 

Rowell: Not always. I very seldom do it for my students. Renie Sharp 
does it entirely for her students. She always sees that her 
students go to the very finest teachers and arranges for it. 

My Scott Kluksdahl, whom I enjoy very, very much I expect 
great things from him, he can be a wonderful cellist he is just 
entering his second year at Harvard. I did write Leonard Rose 
and asked him if he would take him as a student. Scott tried out. 
Leonard only teaches at Juilliard, but he wrote back and said he 
would take him as a student , no matter where he was , he would make 
an exception for him. He met Scott with his car at the station 
[in New York] as he came in, gave him his lesson, and then took 
him back in his car. That was pretty nice of him. But Scott only 
got a few lessons a year from him because Leonard Rose is so busy 
and, evidently, Harvard and Juilliard are hundreds of miles apart 
and it s hard to get there with a cello. I don t know how it s 
going to work out this year yet. 

Riess: How do you match your students with these great people? 

Rowell: Scott would not consider taking from anybody except Leonard Rose. 

There was nobody he wanted to take from. Leonard Rose is not young 
any more and does not have time to teach, but he just wouldn t 
take from anybody else. So there was no doubt there. 


Rowell: Another one of my students who has gone ahead a great deal is 
Gerard Leclerc. Jerry was my student at the conservatory. I 
knew he was musical, but he had many, many technical problems. 
He would fall to pieces under any situation. We didn t, any of us, 
hold out a lot of hope for anything he would do. He was over 
six feet tall and gangly and he sort of threw himself around the 
instrument. But he never got through anything. So, it was hard. 

Somehow, the last year at the conservatory things began to 
come through. He was very excited when Fournier came there for 
a master class. Fournier was very happy with his playing and 
complimentary to him. Of course, Jerry appreciated that so much 
that he couldn t wait to get over to Switzerlznd to study with 
Fournier, which he did. 

Jerry had a very severe case of diabetes and was in the 
hospital. I told you a little bit about him [p. 122]. He did his 
senior recital, the Kodaly unaccompanied, the E-flat Major Bach 
unaccompanied, and the Benjamin Britten unaccompanied. Two days 
after that he was in the hospital, almost collapsed from his 
diabetes, which he didn t even know he had. He had to postpone 
going to Switzerland right away, but he s been there ever since and 
is doing very well. He s the solo cellist of a chamber orchestra 
there, which pays enough for him to do that, and he goes around 
giving concerts in all the little places. I get a card from him 
just about every week, and I got a phone call just this last week. 

He gave a Wigmore Hall concert in London last year. That s 
quite a concert. His chamber orchestra came to the United States 
to tour around New York and that area. He s coming again this 
year for a New York concert. 

Riess: Do you send students to teachers because of a match that you see, 
or because you re filling in some blanks in their education? 

Rowell: I think a teacher-pupil relationship is awfully hard. It is a 

one-to-one relationship and you have to have such a deep respect. 
Usually what happens is that the students, as in Scott s case, go 
East and try out for all these different teachers. Then they, 
really see which one they want to study with. I would say Scott 
had five choices, but there was only one for him. 


Rowell : Not later than April of the year before, they go back and try out 
in New York, in Boston, at Yale and up at Eastman where the 
conservatories are. They re trying out at all those different 
places, but I would say, basically, the teacher is being tried. 
The student comes back knowing which one they want to study with , 


Riess: After looking at one of your music magazines and seeing that so 
many cellists, performers, list four or five teachers they have 
studied with, I wondered how realistic it was. 

Rowell: It isn t realistic. They seem to think that it is very, very 

impressive to put all that down. Actually, the great cellists of 
all time studied with very few teachers. I think it s so important 
for students to know that. Sometimes too many teachers can mix 
you up. There can be more than one right approach, and when you 
have to completely change to another person s "right" approach 
it may throw you, if you ve really become addicted to the one 
you re on. 

I shudder when I see they "studied with Rostropovich," when 
all they did was to come out to a master class and maybe play 
twice for him. That s not studying with a person. When they list 
master classes I m rather horrified. I love to see a person stay 
with a teacher over a long period of time. 

Riess: The people that you have sent your students to are all people you 
knew yourself? 

Rowell: I don t send the students. They choose them, really. I make them 
choose them. I m terrible about that. I simply will not. To 
me, selecting the children s teacher is exactly like the Chinese 
still selecting the wife. I consider this a very serious thing. 
The person may be absolutely tops, but if you aren t going to 
really enjoy working with him there s no use of you spending a 
hundred dollars a lesson on him. 

Einar Jeffrey Holm 

Riess: We ve talked about Paul and Scott and Gerard. Who are some others? 

Rowell: I must bring Jeff in here. Jeff writes me every year and he goes 
now by the name of Einar, but he was Einar Jeffrey Holm. 

I first knew Jeff I can t remember what the year was, but 
Madi Bacon was in charge of the San Francisco Boys Chorus , and she 
asked me for somebody to play a cello solo for one of the things, 
so Bonnie played the "Hungarian Rhapsody," which she played very 
well. I went over to hear her play it. A little boy, just a small 
boy, with light blond hair, and of course a very high boy soprano 
voice, he stood up there and conducted a Bach chorale for the chorus. 
I thought it was just wonderful. 


Rowell: At that time we were planning our own Christmas program at the 

Piano Club with all the cellos. I asked Madi if I could possibly 
ask this boy to conduct that same chorale and 1 would have it for 
the cellos because we loved to play Bach chorales, those four 
voices on cello just sound gorgeous, right where Bach wrote them. 
She said, "Of course." So I asked Jeff and, yes, he would come. 

In those days we had rehearsals for about three Saturdays, 
at least, before the program. I took the Piano Club over. They 
came in the morning. They brought bag lunches and we sat around all 
day rehearsing everything we were going to do. It had to be 
absolutely perfect because they weren t all advanced. I took all 
the cellos. I didn t eliminate anybody. I remember one old man 
in his eighties who I was teaching. He didn t always play 
beautifully, but I could arrange those Bach chorales so that they 
played simple parts with lots of open strings in the lovely bass 
and filled in beautifully without ever playing a note out of tune. 

Riess: These were all recitals of your students? 

Rowell: Yes. We always got together at Christmastime and gave a big 
recital. They didn t all play solos. A great deal of it was 
ensemble. Sometimes they would be wonderful Christmas carols that 
nobody ever heard, in three and four parts , and that type of thing. 
Everybody worked up things for this. That s why they had to 
practice down there at the Piano Club. 

Jeff came over that first Saturday and rehearsed his Bach 
chorale with them, and then sat in a corner, and sat all day in 
that corner. He did that same thing each week before the program. 
He became so enamored of the cello, which he did not know until that 
time, that he begged to take lessons. So, that was the beginning. 
His mother brought him over at the first. Then very early he began 
coming in by himself, carrying that cello, and I would meet him. 
Finally I had a studio down in Berkeley itself rather than up here 
on the hill. 

Riess: What was the address? 
Rowell: It was on Walnut Street. 

Anyway, I enjoyed him tremendously and he did progress very, 
very fast. Believe you me, he had to know his positions absolutely. 
Everything was right there , strong , so that by the end of the year 
he was playing very well. I put him in a little trio that first 
year after he started, with Don Weilerstein as violin and Jerome 
Rose as pianist. 


Rowell: (Jerome Rose the last I heard of him, he was concertizing in Italy. 
He became quite a famous pianist. Don Weilerstein is now the 
first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet and is playing all over 
the world. They re booked at least two years and a half in advance.) 

The three of them gave a little concert together at the end 
of the year. All that Jeff played he played very beautifully. His 
solos were the three little Hindemith pieces, not hard at all, but 
he played them beautifully. They played a Haydn trio and other 
things; they had their own little program. Also, I think, they 
played on the Christmas program as a trio. That was the start for 

He went ahead very fast. He went to Juilliard and I think he 
was the first cellist in the Juilliard orchestra all the way through. 
Don Weilerstein was the concert master. So they went right from 
here to that. Then they formed a quartet, which was the Juilliard 
Quartet young with Donny and Jeff . 

Don went ahead with his own, and Jeff became quite a soloist. 
Now he has for years had his own school in Ithaca, New York. He 
must have twenty to thirty students who are doing excellently. 
He takes them on to really be what I would call professionals. In 
his summer school, which he runs for a number of weeks, they 
practice something like six to eight hours. He has them practicing 
behind closed doors and they don t know when he is listening and 
when he isn t. Every evening they gather together and he tells 
each one what he noticed that they could improve on. They didn t 
know when he was listening, you see. [laughter] 

He really works them. He really and truly works them. But 
they go there and they enjoy, and they go ahead very, very fast. 

The Video-Tap ing, and Sophie Pao 

Rowell: I will have to tell you about one of his students. Her name is 
Sophie Pao. She is Chinese. I think she was six years old when 
she was in the video tape that they took of me at San Francisco 
State College. It s an excellent video tape. Renie Sharp 
arranged for it. I ve told you about it some, I think. About 
three days before doing it I found out that if they stopped once 
during the whole filming of it they said they d have to throw it 
out. They couldn t do it again. So I couldn t stop one second 
from the time I began on those forty minutes. 


Rowell: I said, "What about notes?" 

They said, "You shouldn t have any notes." 

So I said, "Could I make notes for the floor?" 

I was sitting up until midnight the night before, getting 
ready, until I could not talk, I couldn t say a word, nothing came 
out of my mouth I was so exhausted. My tongue got all twisted up. 
But I would take great big bags and tear them open, and have those 
brown paper sheets with notes on the floor so I could look at them 
for help. 

Riess: You needed notes for that situation? 

Rowell: Oh, absolutely! For forty solid minutes of what you were going to 

Riess: I thought it was a sample teaching situation. 

Rowell: No. This was basic principles of teaching. I had to have 

everything down. I had three people to illustrate. I had Sophie 
Pao for the very little one, to illustrate the very beginnings 
of teaching. Then I had Emanuel Vacakis, whom I haven t mentioned 

Emanuel Vacakis I started at nine years old. He s a very 
quiet, withdrawn boy, but he came out really remarkably. He played 
the Dvorak concerto with the Oakland Youth Symphony beautifully, and 
then again with the Holy Names Orchestra. He was in high school 
at the time he was doing this. Then I had Carol Morrow, of whom I 
will have to talk about more. 

Sophie Pao did a beautiful job. She s moved East and gone 
from Renie, who was her teacher at that time, to Jeff. I get letters 
at least twice a year from her and she always signs herself, "your 
grandstudent ," because Renie used to be a student of mine. "My dear 
grandteacher. " [laughter] 

Carol Morrow 

Rowell: Carol Morrow, I started with her when she was, I think, almost 
twelve. Bonnie was going around to the public schools playing, 
thinking she would interest people in cello. Carol was one of the 
few. Bonnie taught her during the summer and then passed her on 
to me. 


Rowell: Carol is black and comes from a lovely family. Her mother told 

me, "Now, don t be surprised, Mrs. Rowell, if you find Carol almost 
antagonistic to you at the beginning. It takes her about two or 
three months to warm up to anybody." I was glad she told me that. 
I would call Carol withdrawn, perhaps, at that time but not 
antagonistic in any way. 

From the very first, Carol and I got along together. She began 
at that young age getting the quality that I wanted. She didn t 
play difficult things right then, but it was the quality and the 
inner sense that I felt. When I had my students here she was 
always a part of the group that came here she was withdrawn from 
them at first. When she was in school I found out that her 
classmates thought that she was haughty. It was not haughtiness. 
It was her self-protection of herself. 

I really honestly think I don t think she would mind my saying 
this at all because I m sure we love each other and know each other 
well enough she didn t know whether she was black or white, or 
which to consider herself, because her family lived in a lovely 
neighborhood, her mother teaches school. I think Carol had a very 
hard time finding herself. 

I can t tell you what delight she is to me. She walked up my 
front sidewalk this summer and it was as if she were a model. She 
was dressed exactly right, so completely simply, but elegantly. I 
said, "Carol, how could you ever find anything so elegant?" And 
she said, "Oh, my mother made it." She makes many of her own 
clothes, which are beautiful, dressing in a great simplicity. 

When it came time to send her away she went back to different 
places to try out. She went to Curtis, where you get everything 
paid for you; you get your instrument supplied and all your music 
and everything, and no expense for the four years. Then Juilliard, 
where you have to pay, though you may get a scholarship. Then she 
went to Eastman and tried out there. 

All three places wanted her, most decidedly. Curtis had 
only one opening for the coming year and they were very happy to 
refuse all their other sixty applicants and give it to her. But 
she didn t want Curtis. She wanted Juilliard. She insisted on 
New York. We all thought Philadelphia would be lovely for her, but 
she wanted New York and she wanted Mr. Shapiro, whom she d met 

I ve never met Mr. Shapiro. From what I get from other people, 
he smokes a great big cigar through the lessons and is always 
partaking of alcohol also. A real he-man that most people are scared 
of. But she got along with him; she wanted him and she has had 
nobody else for the whole four years. 


Rowell : She had played the Elgar concerto with the Youth Symphony here 

before she left. She did it beautifully. She went down and played 
it with the Santa Cruz Symphony and did a beautiful job of it. 
When she went back there [to New York] he put her right on the 
Boccherini concerto. The second month there they had concerto try- 
outs and Juilliard gave her the first prize for concerto, in her low 
freshman year, on a concerto that she knew the first page of and 
that was just about all. 

I almost died when I heard of it. I didn t know how she would 
get through. She was so nervous working for that thing and she had 
to play the final in Carnegie Hall. Her mother went back to it. 
She didn t do well on her first movement. She said she d never 
guessed that Carnegie Hall was so big, or was it Lincoln Center? 
I ve forgotten which hall it was. She d never guessed it was so 
big until she came on the stage. She said everything just went 
through her, so she was nervous for the first few measures of it. 
But she did very well. 

Imagine choosing her for their soloist her low freshman year! 
But it was because they all thought so highly of her playing and 
didn t know that she didn t know the whole concerto from beginning 
to end, and her teacher let her play it. 

She graduated and came out here to take her fifth year with me 
at the conservatory, to get her master s degree. She was here 
about only two or three weeks when she had a call from New York. 
They were asking her to come back for a job that paid $600 a week, 
which is pretty darn good. (This was over a year ago now.) 

She said, "Oh, but I m going to give a concert here in a 
couple of weeks." (It wasn t one that she was being paid anything 
for; it was one that she was putting on herself.) She said, "I 
can t come," and she hung up the phone. Then she began thinking 
it over and she called me. 

I said, "I don t know. What do you think?" 

She said, "Well..." and she called back the. next day and said, 
"I would like to consider it." 

He said, "I m sorry. We ve gotten somebody else." 

She said, "Oh, I m sorry. I would have liked to come." So 
they called her a day or so later and said, "All right. We ve 
fixed it for you. You can come on back." Of course cellists are 
just sitting around New York waiting for jobs. So they really like 


Rowell: She has finished her master s degree at Juilliard. She did that at 
the same time she was taking her evening job and getting that 
very, very good salary, much better than I get. 

1 expect her to really do things, if she ll really get down. 
The only trouble I have with her is that at Juilliard she was still 
doing the same pieces over that I had given her all the time. Even 
for her senior thing she did the same pieces that she studied with 
me, rather than new ones that she studied back there, which really 
broke my heart. I wanted her to learn the whole repertoire. Unlike 
Jeff and the others who explored the whole repertoire, she did not. 

San Francisco Conservatory s Ranking in Music Schools 

Riess : 
Rowell ; 

Rowell : 

How does the San Francisco Conservatory rank? 
Eastman and Curtis and Juilliard. 

You ve mentioned 

It s coming to the fore very, very much. Of course, New York 
doesn t know that there s anything west of, what would you say? 

The Palisades. 

Yes, just about. So this has been very hard on it. Mr. [Milton] 
Salkind has been the president of the Association of Conservatories 
which, if I remember right, includes Juilliard and Eastman, Mannes 
and those. He has been the president of that for several years. 
I don t know whether he is this year or not. Their meetings have 
been held out here quite a number of times. 

I think we are ranking much higher than we were. It most 
certainly is harder to get into than the eastern conservatories, 
and we give much, much harder year-end juries to our students. 
When I compare us with Paul Tobias, who teaches, or some of the 
teachers at the New England Conservatory, there s no comparison 
with what we demand. For the year-end jury we have to have a 
complete Bach suite from memory, and I mean from memory! One of 
my very finest students just flubbed a little bit in one movement 
and they wouldn t pass the whole thing even though everything else 
was perfect until that Bach was absolutely by memory. Then they 
have to do a complete sonata, like a Beethoven sonata or a Prokofiev 
or something like that, and a complete concerto totally from memory, 
with the cadenzas and everything. And then a virtuoso piece. They 
have to play all of that for a jury. 

Riess: And that s to get their degree? 


Rowell : 


Rowell : 

No. That s every year, to go on. They can t go on from one year 
to the next year without doing that. 

You re talking about tremendous pressure, 
sympathy for people who cannot do that? 

Don t you have a lot of 

Oh, I do. This is the first year I haven t taught at the 
conservatory. I ll have to say that it s the pressure I m glad 
I m out of, because I want to teach that instrument. I m there 
primarily to teach them the cello as I want to and then see them 
develop , and there my whole concentration ends up on whether they 
can memorize their Bach suite , whether they can do one movement 
right after the other. They come over here and we have evenings 
while they play and play and play for each other, because it s an 
entirely different thing to play for yourself and friends than for 
a jury. When you see Stuart Canin and all those members of the 
symphony sitting there, looking at you and passing on you, it s 
terribly hard. To know that if you make a mistake that it s 
it s a very hard deal. 

I think that we re doing much better with it right now at the 
conservatory, letting down things a little bit so the students 
aren t quite so tense when they come in for it. And I do think 
it s an excellent school. 

Peter Shelton, and Auditioning 

Rowell : 

What does the conservatory do for its auditioning students? 

Do you mean auditioning to get in to the conservatory? 

No. To get into a major symphony orchestra once they ve graduated. 

Well, I will say that we ve all thought that they don t prepare 
their students enough for what they have to do afterwards. 
However, I m not as worried. What they do know, usually, is a 
concerto by memory for the rest of their lives, because they ve 
had to learn one every year, and so on. 

Auditions are just fascinating. People don t understand what 
symphony auditions are. This is a wonderful question to ask me 
right now, because just a week ago yesterday Peter Shelton oh, I 
didn t mention him? Peter Shelton was one of my students all 
through high school. Did I enjoy him! He was a great pleasure. 
He went on to Stanford and was with Bonnie at Stanford, even though 


Rowell: he would come back to play for me when he was going to play for 
something. Then he came to the conservatory for his master s 
degree and did remarkably. It was while he was still studying at 
the conservatory that there came the opening in the San Francisco 
Symphony . 

To our utter amazement, out of I don t know how many they 
were trying out it s always over a hundred Peter got to be the 
assistant principal of the San Francisco Symphony. Grebanier was 
imported from the East and is a beautiful cellist. But there was 
Peter, the assistant principal, not yet out of school! We just 
all had our fingers crossed because while he had the potential, he 
didn t have the experience at all, not at all. 

I did worry those first few times when Grebanier had a cut 
here or had something there, and Peter had to jump in and take his 
solo parts. I really did worry. But Peter has really come through 
it just beautifully. 

A week ago yesterday he took upon himself, for Cello Club, 
giving a program on how to prepare for a symphony audition. It was 
a masterpiece of an undertaking. It took him almost an hour and a 
half to go through what he had. The whole audience just sat there, 
taking it in. You would think that for people who weren t going 
to try out for a smymphony orchestra, that it might be a dull 
session. It was anything but! Peter had done so much preparation 
for that. 

Usually when they have an audition for a cello opening, they 
advertise and people come from all over for it, over two hundred, 
nearer four hundred. But they decided this time, instead of having 
all those people come crowding in here and pay their way here, 
their hotels and everything else, for Peter to go across the 
United States and try them out. 

What Peter did yesterday was to take up what does really count 
when he s going and trying out these different players to see 
whether they are equal to coming to San Francisco for their final 
try outs. What he gave us of what is necessary was fascinating. 

He took up every degree of it , even to the personality of the 
player in meeting the symphony conductor or the person holding the 
audition. I saw somebody come up here just within the last few days 
and sit down at the cello, with the grimmest face, ready to show me 
his symphony parts. I said, "I can tell you that isn t the way to 
come in and sit down, with that grim face and looking down." 


Rowell: You have to be cordial to that person who s going to interview 
you. You may not want to be, but you have to be. And you 
shouldn t be too cordial. He [Peter] said to meet the eyes of the 
person that you re going to play for and to really make contact. 

Rowell: The conductor wants you not to be buried into your music which you re 
reading. He wants you to be able to follow his beat, if he s going 
to beat for you, or anything else. 

Peter also went into the actual preparation of the cello 
parts and so on, the whole procedure. It was done in such a 
beautiful way that I was just fascinated. I ran up to him afterwards 
and said, "Oh, Peter, you just must go around doing this." 

He said, "Margaret, I ve thought of writing a book, I got so 
excited doing this for this afternoon. I do want to go ahead with 
it myself." I hope that he does. 

I might mention that when Peter tried out for the San Francisco 
Symphony he made a date with me to come up the evening before and 
play all those things that you have to play, just excerpts, but the 
very hardest excerpts. After a long night, I told him it was fine 
and sent him out the front door, and I was exhausted and went to bed. 
Well , I got up the next morning and looked on this couch and all 
his music was here, not with him, and he was to be first the next 
morning, 8 o clock or 9 o clock! I practically passed out. That 
day was a day of absolute agony for me. I couldn t get over what 
I had done. He was coming out of his own free will to play for me, 
and there it was ! 

When I finally got hold of him he said, "Margaret, you didn t 
need to worry. I knew them all by heart." [laughter] 

I like to tell that because I thought that was the best 
preparation. He knew how to prepare, even then. So, he made it 
and he sent me a great big box of champagne. He really is a 
darling. He s not my student anymore. He s on our staff at the 
conservatory as a teacher now, the youngest one, in his twenties. 

Ken Pinckney 

Rowell: Ken Pinckney is one who studied with me in high school. He came 
as a very shy redheaded boy. There I had to work with the 
individual , because he was so shy and so held up that he never got 


Rowell : 


Rowell : 

through things. I never really thought of him as progressing to 
be a professional cellist. His father was principal of Oakland 
High School at that time and he came out with him. I had to work 
to get Ken through a phrase so that he could hold himself to do 
anything . 

I remember he surprised me by entering a contest. Some 
organization was giving a prize. Two of my cello students went 
into it at that same time. They were playing in the same 
orchestra, but I had no idea that they were competitors. Ken was 
studying something like the Boellman variations, which I don t 
even teach at this time. He had about fifteen measures of it and 
that was as far as I d given him. He played those first fifteen 
measures for his try-out and that was it, and he made it. But 
my other student made it also. It was a tie between them. 

There were three try-outs before the end. I took him on in 
the same piece, so he had more for the next time. He played down 
to the next double bar, I guess, for the next time, and they were 
still tied. It came to the final. That was really something. They 
both tied for the final. (The other one was Jean Hornabrook 
someone I m very happy with and keep in touch with all the time.) 

I think that one breakthrough did him a world of good. It 
gave him confidence. Learning his fifteen measures, and then his 
thirty measures, and then going on, gave him real confidence that 
he could go ahead and do something. 

He sounds like he was competitive enough, 
be competitive to be in this. 

In fact , you have to 

Yes. There is a certain bit of that in there. There isn t 
competitiveness in chamber music, but there is in both orchestra 
and in solo work. That s the reason I like the chamber music so 

But, Ken Pinckney did go ahead then to study with Bernard 
Greenhouse. How that happened was after he graduated from high 
school he came to San Francisco State, where I was teaching. While 
he was there, without my knowing it, he fell in love with the 
harpist in his Young People s Orchestra. She was Filipino. 

Well, she went back to Julliard to study harp. He couldn t 
stand it so he went back to visit her at Christmastime. Somewhere 
in all my letters I m sure I still have the letter from him, where 
he wrote me that he knew I could never forgive him, but he was 
"falling in love with Marie" and that was all there was to it. He 
would have to stay on. He couldn t come back to the second semester. 
He just couldn t do it. 


Rowell: So he was sweeping out a drugstore in the evenings to get enough 
to pay for his keep , and every day he would go by the Mannes 
School. One day he walked in and asked if he could try out there. 
It was Bernard Greenhouse who heard him and said, "I ll take you 
for a student." He not only took him for a student, he took him 
through the four years and was just wonderful. 

Bernard Greenhouse has a very quiet pose. What can I call 
it? It s a beautiful spirit in him. Not that competitive spirit 
at all. It just suited the two of them exactly. Ken developed 
under him, and when it came summertime Bernard Greenhouse said, 
"I m going to take you up to my summer place" I think it was 
Bar Harbor or one of those places "and show you what we do in the 
summertime," which was to take a hammer and nails and build 
something. He also took him boating and taught him all sorts of 
stuff, making a he-man out of him as well as overseeing his 
playing, which I thought was a great thing for a teacher to do. 

Ken really progressed. When he graduated he was all right 
but he wasn t a great cellist, by any manner of means. He married 
Marie right away. They very soon had a child. Galen and I went 
one summer and visited. We arrived in New York at Grand Central 
Station. [Ken] said, "I ll meet you." Here he was in a little 
seersucker suit, and he walked us for miles to his home. He was 
still saving every single penny. 

He took me to their apartment , which they call a railroad 
train apartment, something of the kind, as narrow, almost, as a 
railroad car. You come into the little living room, the next is 
the dining room, the next is the kitchen, and the last one is the 
bathroom, with the toilet sitting right at the top. As you come 
in that s the thing you see sitting up there if they haven t closed 
the door, which was what I saw. 

They wanted to play immediately for me. They couldn t get 
the harp and the cello in the same room. [laughter] So he had to 
sit practically in the next room. They played the Schubert 
Arpeggione Sonata, which I ve already told you was so difficult. 
She played the harp for him. It was beautiful. At the end of it 
Ken looked up at me and said, "Now, did that sound difficult?" 

Galen, a fine musician at heart, answered immediately, "Oh, yes, 
very difficult." 

Ken just collapsed. He said, "Oh, and Mr. Greenhouse said 
it should sound so simple!" Of course, that s the beauty of 
Schubert, that it is so hard and yet it must sound effortless. 


Rowell: I think they had four children. She was the harpist for the 

St. Louis Symphony, right on graduation, and he was the very back 
cellist, back of either ten or twelve cellos. In no time he was 
up a little bit farther, a little bit farther, and before I knew it 
he was the assistant principal there. 

First he sat at the second stand. When he was at the second 
stand the first stand was Leslie Parnas , who since then has become 
one of the leading cellists of all the country and got the 
Tschaikovsky Award. I was surprised in reading that. He is one 
of our great, great cellists. Ken said he learned an awful lot by 
sitting right behind him all that time. When Parnas left, then, 
Ken moved up to assistant principal. They made him principal for 
a couple of years and he begged not to be. I don t blame him. If 
you re sitting first you have a terrific pressure on you. He asked 
to remain assistant principal, which I think he still is. 

Sally Kell 

Rowell: I think I maybe should take up Sally Kell, who was the first cellist 
of the Oakland Symphony for a long time, and an extraordinary 
musician. She was a total musician, in that she had the kind of 
ear that heard so very, very clearly and quickly. I didn t know 
it at the time I took her, of course, but she also made a good 
conductor because she did hear so well and had such a marvelous 
sense of rhythm. 

Jim Lieberman, one of my other students, thought an awful lot 
of her and insisted on bringing her up to me after she d been a 
summer at the Santa Barbara Academy of Music. I think she was 
sixteen. She looked like a little mite of a girl, playing on a 
small cello. I was teaching at Mills College. There had been a 
scholarship that had never been given to anybody, the Luther 
Marchant Scholarship, and I offered it to her. She came on up and 
studied those four years with me at Mills College. 

I got to know her very well during that time. Everybody saw 
in her this very competent, extremely talented person who could 
do many things. She wrote very well and before she was through 
she was assistant to the president of Mills College for writing 
things, for doing all sorts of things for the college. While she 
was always very musical, she never attained the quality, in any 
respect, that I wanted from the instrument. She could play the 
whole instrument so easily and read everything so quickly, and had 
all of that, yet I never could get her, in her whole life, to get 
the quality that I wanted out of that instrument. 


Rowell: But she could sit down and hold that first chair in the Oakland 

Symphony, which she did for years, and every conductor wanted her 
right under their baton, because she could read anything at sight 
and follow them just like that, and was so dependable she was a 
joy to have around. She was a poet, a writer, she was everything. 

She soon found out , as with Rostropovich and with others , that 
her gift was hearing whole, hearing the whole thing. She had a 
wonderful knack at conducting. She was the assistant conductor of 
the Oakland Symphony for quite a while. Then she led her own 
orchestra. Then she was in charge of the Junior Bach Festival. 
It was wonderful to see her grow. 

I knew her father and mother from Phoenix , Arizona , and her 
sister. Her father and mother were both killed in that perfectly 
horrible airplane accident on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. I 
was trying to be with Sally at that time, because the word came 
through first about the accident and we didn t know whether they 
were on it or not. But, of course, they were. Sally took it 
wonderfully. She had to play something the very next day and she 
went and played it anyway. Of course, it made a terrific impact on 

Her mother had been a very fine musician, a flute player. She 
came to me when I was teaching Sally at Mills and said, "Margaret, 
I want you to promise me one thing, please, that you ll never make 
a professional musician out of Sally." That s really something to 
try to promise a mother! Of course, I couldn t. It just wasn t 
in the cards to prevent it. 

The mother was a professional musician. She had been a free 
lancer on flute in Los Angeles. When you re free lancing and 
running from one place to another, you are not happy. People 
think that musicians just love to run around playing this little 
job and that little job. No. That isn t really [easy]. It s a 
part of music that I just hate. I think it s one reason why I m 
awfully happy when my students have another way of earning their 
living, and then play just loads and loads of fine music and keep 
up their instrument, and are really beautiful at it and can play 
every Beethoven quartet under the sun. I m not after whether 
they have all the glory of it. I m after whether their lives are 
really satisfactory to them. I think that s so much more important. 

So, that s Sally. Of course, we all know that she met her end, 

finally, by taking her own life, which nobody could understand. I 

think I more or less understand it. I knew how she put on this 

appearance of being the happiest kid in college you could ever 


Rowell: [imagine], this great big smile and bravado for everything. But 
underneath when we took a trip down south and so on I knew she 
wasn t a happy person. I was shocked, but not as surprised as 
other people. 

Riess: You said she started her own group? 

Rowell: Yes. It s one of the orchestras that is still going. 

Riess: I was trying to think of those names, because there have been a 
number. When you refer to the Oakland Youth Symphony Orchestra? 

Rowell: That is the Youth Symphony, which is an offshoot of the Oakland 

Symphony. It really belongs to the Bay Area, not just to Oakland. 
It may be sometimes called the Oakland Youth Symphony, because it 
belongs to the Oakland Symphony, but it includes people from all 

Riess: So when you refer to people soloing with the Youth Symphony, that s 
the group you mean? 

Rowell: That s it. Dr. [Denis] de Coteau has been the conductor of it as 
long as I can remember, and such a conductor! They ve been to 
Europe several times. They first went to Europe so sure that they 
were going to get the first prize against all the other ones, and 
of course they didn t. [laughter] It was a great disappointment. 
He took, at that time, his chamber orchestra, not a full orchestra. 
There he was competing with the one from the Soviet Union, which 
had of course practiced and practiced, and the one from Helsinki, 

I had a student I hear from him all the time, he sends me 
records who is now the assistant principal of the Helsinki 
Symphony. He was going to high school here at that time. He 
studied with me. His orchestra was in the competition. He s the 
one who told the Oakland Symphony people, "Look, we re all going to 
a conservatory as well as playing in the Helsinki Symphony. We 
get paid for everything lesson, symphony." He said, "We re not 
in high school anymore. We re all on the conservatory and we re 
all playing in the Helsinki Symphony, but we call this the Youth 
Orchestra so that we could come and try out." 

So the Oakland group knew what they had to try out against , 
and they went the next time and really and truly made it. They got 
the first place! Peter Shelton and Carol Morrow were the two 
who soloed at that time. I remember Peter being so nervous over 
playing, but he did beautifully. 


Rowell: That orchestra is a marvelous orchestra for really training them, 
grilling them, for what they have to do later on, meeting the 

Riess: Over the years, have there been some very distinguished high school 

Rowell: Of course there was the Berkeley Young People s Symphony. It s 
still going. Jessica Marcelli she s quite a name to go with 
Berkeley history was the conductor. I have a picture of the 
orchestra, with Bonnie sitting in the last seat. That s the 
orchestra she soloed with at thirteen. 

Riess: When was that, fifties or sixties? 
Rowell: Dates don t mean anything. 

They are the orchestra that opened the Berkeley Community 
Theater. It was an excellent orchestra! You paid to belong to it, 
and the parents did a great deal for it. Jessica Marcelli was 
really an inspired conductor. A fine woman. She looked beautiful 
as she stood there and conducted. That was a marvelous thing in 
Berkeley history. 

Riess: In that group or in the Oakland Youth Symphony, is it always 
oriented towards competing on an international scale? 

Rowell: No. I think that that first time that the Oakland group went to 
Europe was the first time I d ever heard of that type of a 
competition, for orchestras. 

There were no competitions for anything when I was studying. 
I remember people trying out for the Rostropovich Master Class saying 
to Zara Nelsova and myself, "How do you try out for auditions?" 
Zara and I looked at each other and said, "Well, we ve never tried 
out for an audition in our lives. We were always asked to play in 
it." I never had to try out for it. You didn t have all of that 
competition. It s a later thing, a very much later thing. 

Riess: Have you been associated with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra? 
Rowell: Well, yes, I have been. You mean as it exists today? 
Riess: Yes. 

Rowell: It s quite a new group. I ve tried to help them from time to time, 
rather strongly. I m very interested in them. I have students 
in it. I think it s a wonderful young group, and I think they re 


Rowell: doing just marvelously. They brought Messiaen over last year, 
and I thought that was just one of the most thrilling occasions 
there ever could be. 

There are many orchestras now in the Bay Area, 
to be able to exist. 

And all seem 

Joel Cohen, Becky Rust 

Rowell: Now I might just go on to Joel Cohen, who is now the first cellist 
of the Oakland Symphony. He first took from Renie Sharp, before 
he came to me. He is one who has the sense of quality, very much, 
and he knows just what he wants out of the cello. Nobody else can 
tell him. You don t have to teach him style. You don t have to 
teach him anything. But you have to be sure that he comes through 
with what he has, because he would be the first one to know that 
he wants more than he is able to give. That is, he never used to 
put on that very last finishing touch. 

When he was in high school he did the whole D-Major Bach 
Suite, which I think is the hardest one to memorize and the 
hardest one to do, without a doubt. But he did it so beautifully 
for the Bach Junior Festival, absolutely perfectly, and it sounded 
just gorgeous, except that in the middle of the fast movement he 
forgot which string he was on and went to the wrong string for 
several measures. It was a little bit of an imperfection, that s 
all. It didn t bother me that much. But there is always in his 
playing, has been, that little bit of imperfection. 

He has always been searching for the perfect teacher. I m 
almost like, I wouldn t say a mother figure, but something else 
that you run back to. He always comes back and plays. He commuted 
weekly from Santa Cruz , taking lessons while he was going to the 
University of California Santa Cruz. He d come up and take a 
lesson and go back in a day. 

I always knew that he wanted to go on to something else that 
was inside him, because he is the artist type. So he would go to 
Europe and try out this person and that person. "Nope. No good." 
Or else be turned down. He was turned down by one. He couldn t 
believe it! But it wasn t the right teacher for him anyway. I 
think he will be going sometime back to the one in Helsinki, which 
he thinks is beautiful and does gorgeous recordings. 


Rowell: He has gotten a great deal out of just playing and playing, and 
trying to play to suit himself. There isn t anything he can t 
play. I think he s a very fine musician. He ll find himself. 
He s still finding himself. It s an excellent way. 

He knows he has a lazy streak in him. I don t think that 
being able to practice hours a day is the answer at all. I would 
rather see this lazy streak that comes over you, almost a poetic 
streak in you that loves to loll and dream. 

Riess: Have any of your students ever become involved in eastern meditation 
and then become better players for it, because of that concentration? 

Rowell: Oh, yes. I don t know whether he does that or not. Bonnie does, 
and I m sure many of my students do. I believe in it so whole 
heartedly. If it isn t eastern meditation, at least meditation. 
I don t care what form it takes. But I think it s a very important 
element. I don t think there s enough of it in the life of the 
youth today. I think the older people are catching on to it very 
quickly and using it. But the younger people hardly get time for 

I d like to take up Becky Rust. She started with a student of 
mine, Phyllis Miller, when she was about eight. I used to hear 
her and think, "She plays nicely in that first position and plays 
those little Otis songs nicely," but I didn t think much about her 
until she came to me for lessons. We ve had years together. I 
can t tell you what it has meant to me. 

I m going to jump ahead to the climax, and I may go on with 
it next time. She searched out for different teachers and did not 
find anybody. When she came this week to me here I said, "Surely 
you ve been taking from somebody in these last four years." 

She said, "Oh, I ve been taking from Margaret Rowell." 

I said, "What do you mean?" I did see her two years ago. She 
flew down from Germany, where she s playing all the time, to the 
hotel in Switzerland where I was and spent a couple of days with 
me. I worked with her there. But I haven t seen her since until 
just this week. 

She plays gorgeously, technically secure, musically, with a 
deep musical sincerity which is amazing. She is always finding 
new moderns to do, as well as her beloved Bach. She is kept busy 
with concerts in Europe. She has the use of a beautiful old cello, 
because of an elderly lady who attended one of her concerts in an 
old castle and enjoyed her playing so much. (I wish more of my 
students could have that luck!) 


Rowell: Another thing is that she doesn t want to listen to a lot of 

records. She figures everything out for herself. When she came to 
visit this last year she was playing the Boccherini B-flat Concerto 
and the Haydn C-liajor. I was amazed when I heard how beautifully 
she played them. She said she had not been listening to recordings 
and I don t know whether she had heard them performed. What I do 
know is that she gave them a very beautiful authentic performance. 
She truly plays movingly from "the inside out." 

Chamber Music in Berkeley* 

Riess: Periodically we have talked about musical groups and developments 
in the East Bay. One group I wanted to add was 1750 Arch Street. 
Has that been important? 

Rowell: Yes, it was a good music center. Of course, it was closed for so 
long, due to the fact that it didn t meet the fire regulations. 
That closed it for months and months and months, and they finally 
opened it and could only admit I think fifty people instead of the 
hundred that used to come. And I think this made it so that they 
couldn t make enough off of it to really keep it going as a center. 
But while it went, it was something really remarkable, and I tried 
to get to as many concerts as I possibly could there. 

Riess: Why was it remarkable? 

Rowell: Well, it was such close quarters for it! You had a very intimate 
evening when you went there. They catered to very fine musicians 
doing it. You were right with the artists, almost on top of them 
while they played. I think it was sometimes hard on the artists 
themselves, but very fine for the people going. So you just rushed 
to get a ticket to go, and you very often even within a week of 
the time could not make reservations for it, because it was sold 
out so quickly. It was a wonderful thing while it went, but I 
think it was the fire restrictions that really stopped it more 
than anything else. 

Riess: How about other centers that have come and gone over the years 
that are in any way similar to 1750 Arch? Have there been any? 

Rowell: I can only think of the Julia Morgan [Center for the Arts, College 
Avenue] right now. I m so glad they re using it for music, because 
when those wooden structures are used for music, it s always more 
beautiful. I love to go there. 

*[recorded October 24, 1983] 


Riess: And concert series in various churches? 

Rowell: Yes. The Trinity [United Methodist Church of Berkeley, Dana Street] 
has a wonderful concert series. Berkeley is replete with them, 
just rich with them, I should say. I follow them so carefully. 
I would rather go to those much more than to go over to San Francisco- 
that is, for chamber music and sit way in the back of the hall for 
chamber music. For the symphony I like it. 

Riess: Before Hertz Hall was built, where on campus were the concerts? 

Rowell: They were all in Wheeler Hall. 

Riess: Even the smallest concerts would have been in Wheeler Hall? 

Rowell: Yes. 

Riess: And how was that acoustically? 

Rowell: I always remember it with a great deal of pleasure. The big hall 
that has all the offices in it had a small room where I first 
heard Fournier and some of those. You know where I mean just 
as you come in Sather Gate, to your left hand. 

Riess: Dwinelle? 

Rowell: Yes, Dwinelle. They have two little halls in there, and I first 
heard Fournier in there. Those are smaller than Wheeler, but for 
chamber music they were very good. 

Riess: Were there any homes in Berkeley where musical events happened? 

Rowell: Of course there were string quartets always rehearsing and doing 

everything, but I can t remember well, yes, Mrs. [Stanley] Hiller, 
who lived up on what is now Hiller Road and owned all of that, had 
a lovely big mansion there, and she sometimes had evenings of 
music. But no, really, I wouldn t say so, I d leave that out. 

Riess: Well, all I m asking is whether in the Berkeley area there were 
neither homes big enough, or the atmosphere to do this? 

Rowell: I would say in the Berkeley area, the whole thing with the string 
quartets were amateur string quartets practicing or enjoying 
evenings together. I never knew a richer place for string quartets 
to be playing. But you either played for yourselves, or else you 
practiced for ages and gave a concert. The two were not synonymous 
at all. It wasn t the same group. You were always playing string 
quartets, but string quartets are meant for your own pleasure and 
they were not written with an audience consciousness. 


Rowell: I think there s a great difference between the way a composer 

composes for a string quartet and the way he would compose for a 
symphony orchestra. You take Beethoven, for instance or Mozart 
or any of them when they re composing a symphony, they usually 
start with something, and they will certainly end, as Beethoven 
did, with bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang how many measures of 
c-major chord? [laughs] just over and over and over again, and 
always this great big rumble of an end. When you re coming to an 
end in a string quartet, you don t have to make that. You don t 
have to begin or end any particular way, because you have a 
captive audience and an audience right around you. 

In those old days string quartets were written for the home 
I mean, for the drawing room situation, and not for the platform 
situation. You didn t have to wait for applause. It was written 
for the enjoyment of the players themselves, and therefore you 
have a much finer composition; you have a much finer insight into 
the music, a much better development. It s the whole development 
and everything else that counts, and not at all how it begins or 
how it ends. With a symphony, it just darn well better catch your 
interest from the very first note it plays, and end so that you know 
that you can clap, clap, clap. 


[Interview 8: November 1, 1982 ]## 

Dance, Connections and Movement 

Rowell: I went to bed last night and I woke up before five this morning. 

I lay there absolutely aware that the earth was slowly turning and 
I was turning with it. I often have this experience. Do you? 

Riess: No. That s wonderful! 

Rowell: It s the most wonderful experience in the world. I feel absolutely 
at one. I lie out flat. I don t really feel it, but I almost 
feel as if I m a part of something that s turning very slowly. 
Then I get the feeling of that movement being so darned important , 
and that if that earth didn t move like that, what would happen? 
So there I am. 

Maybe this comes to me because I read what Martha Graham 
said in the paper yesterday. I wonder if I have it here. 

[break in tape] 

Rowell: [In an interview] Graham says, "I am not a style. It means rigidity 
and I am an object of change." (I thought that was just wonderful.) 
"When I stopped dancing there was a strange disassociation. I 
grew conscious of the space in a way I hadn t before, of the visual 
difference between straight and diagonal." 

That gets me. Straight and diagonal. It just depends on how 
you use them, because they re the same thing. [continues reading] 
"Graham has persevered the last twenty years, still as always 
drawing everything in her dances from life, the burning conviction 
now as always that everything, in E.M. Forster s words, must 
connect. " [Graham says] "The world is movement conscious and 
movement never lies, if you permit it to express something of the 


Rowell: inner life.... My father, who was a doctor, told me to look to 

involuntary movement for truth. Society conditions us to suppress 
it. My quarrel is with the choreographers who use movement for 
no reason whatsoever. Don t watch a choreographer s movements. 
Watch the transitions. The animating force lies there." 

I thought that was simply wonderful. I can see this in music, 
that it s the connections that make it. [reading] "Graham s art 
is not so severe as she makes it sound. She has collaborated on 
sets and costumes and so on for forty-four years. Her composers 
have included [Anton] Horst and Samuel Barber, William Schuman and 
Carlo Chavez, and of course Aaron Copland. I have always felt, 1 
she avers, That dance and music must be of the same era. I always 
performed in the grandest of theaters. Never, never have I danced 
only for the adulation of the few. Remember that the original 
meaning of enthusiasm is the worship of the gods. I think it still 
applies. " 

That thing on connection and movement I thought was simply 

Pablo Casals at Berkeley 

Riess: We were going to talk about the master classes, yours and others. 

Rowell: The concept of the master class emerged from the great violin 

teachers of Europe and probably came to our country from 1950 on. 
Casals came twice. April 1960 was the first, and 1962 the second. 
I think that was the way it was. 

We had had master classes before that, but it would be the 
great teachers who would come and explain how they taught, 
basically, rather than this thing of having the students play. 
However, I find that the great cellists of Europe have practically 
taught through master classes all these years. Instead of having 
the individual student come for a lesson, they all come in the 
morning together. One student takes the lesson, and another and 
another, and they listen to each other. 

When I stop to think, that was the way I did it back when I 

taught at Mills College for the summers. That was just chamber 

music and coaching, which would be a master class situation. I 

had maybe ten groups in different rooms out there, big rooms, and 

each with a grand piano. I would coach one group and they would all 
be there. Then we would go to the next group. They would be 
practicing all day long but we would all go wherever it was happening. 


Rowel 1: 







I think that the master class idea did grow, perhaps rather slowly, 
but it has most certainly taken this country over , and I would say 
Europe as well. It s such a fine way. Up to that time I would 
say that the teachers had their own students, but nobody else 
ever saw that particular teacher teach. He might have taught his 
own students together, but there was nobody else seeing him. That 
would be the difference. 

At the master class the audience is often teachers watching the 
master teach? 

It s students, too. Anner Bijlsma, a very fine Baroque cellist, 
is coming this week to Stanford. We ll all be flocking down there. 
He ll be giving a master class in the afternoon and then playing 
in the evening. 

Tell me about getting Casals to come here. I ve always said that 
you paved the way, but I m not exactly sure that that s true. 

Oh, noJ It was Bonnie Hampton who really paved the way for his 
coming, entirely. Colin Hampton, also, but in a much less way. 
Bonnie had been studying with him before that time and without 
a doubt she brought him. 

However, Casals had a wonderful memory, always, of California. 
If you ve read anything about him you know about the year he came 
and took that trip up Tamalpais. 

Yes. Nineteen hundred and one he climbed Mount Tarn, 
also when the boulder smashed his finger. 

That was 

Yes. It s very interesting to know more about that. The woman 
with whom he stayed in San Francisco at that time was a friend of 
his and I sat next to her at a dinner. She told me so much about 
him. It was very interesting. How insecure he was at that time 
and how he didn t think he would ever go on with cello playing. 
He wasn t sure he wanted to. 

You know what he said when he injured his finger? "Thank 
God I ll never have to play the cello again!" I think that s one 
of the most wonderful exclamations. I can understand that so 
perfectly. We get so wrapped up in it; we wish we could live our 
own lives, and we feel that the cello is living our life for us! 

I think her father was the doctor for Casals and that he lived 
three or four months with them at that time, in great depression. 
She couldn t pull him out of it. She kept in touch with him after 
that and used to fly down to Puerto Rico every summer to hear him 
down there. 


Rowell: But I most certainly had nothing whatsoever to do with bringing 
Casals here. The Cello Club had thought that they would, but it 
was very apparent that Cello Club did not have the means. We were 
not structured to do anything like that. So we got the Extension 
Department of the University of California to take it on, which they 
did in a very wonderful way. I just saw Estelle Caen this past 
week. She was the one who was in charge of it for the university. 
We thought back to those times. 

Riess: They took care of the enrolling and of the financial aspects? 

Rowell: And they made a heck of a lot of money off of it, because everybody 
came from all over the United States for that. That was a very big 



Riess: If everybody was coming from all over, you had an enriched contact 
with the whole cello world? 

Rowell: Yes, of course. There the cello teachers did come from the different 
universities. The players came from all over, too, though most of 
them were our Berkeley players. 

Riess: Did this affect the cello section of the San Francisco Symphony? 
Did it have that kind of result? 

Rowell: No. I think the San Francisco Symphony probably paid little 

attention to it. It was in their own backyard: Berkeley is surely 
the backyard of San Francisco, not the parlor. It was the people 
from Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Symphony, more the solo players 
from all over the United States that came. 

I remember the teachers. One was from Kansas and I thought, 
"Kansas?" But he brought a student with him, who was in the class, 
and I found out afterwards what a remarkable cello teacher he was 
and how many fine students he had had all through his life. There 
were many like that, who came and stayed the whole two weeks. 

It was a month, I guess, the first time. There were twelve 
cellists, as I remember. I think almost half of the total were 
either mine or had studied with me, like Bonnie Hampton. 

It was terribly hard! I never knew what they were going to 
have to play the next day. It was put up on a sheet one day what 
we were going to play the next. I had to work from day to day 
with them on what they were going to play. It was awfully hard on 
me. Terribly hard. I was worn out. I think that this was as bad 
the second time. He came for two weeks, the second time, and a 
month the first time. It was spread out. 



So the system would be that you would coach them like mad the day 

Rowell: [chuckles] Oh, yes! It was mad. It was really hectic for me. 

I didn t know which students were going to get in. I didn t 
push them. A couple of students got in who I really thought 
shouldn t be in, who weren t that well prepared. 

Riess: Who auditioned them for the master class? 

Rowell: Colin Hampton did it mainly. I think Colin and Bonnie did it 
mainly . 

Riess: There was Pablo Casals with Margaret Rowell s students. Did you 
have some contact with him? 

Rowell: I had very little contact with Casals. I didn t want to have it 
because, as I say, he was somebody that I worshiped in the 
distance. Cello Club had a dinner for him. I remember that. 
He stayed at the Durant Hotel. Everybody else saw him and crowded 
around him. I was so busy with all the other things. I didn t 
feel as if I was in any way in charge of it or doing anything for 
it. I was so busy getting my students ready to play for him. 
Other times that some people have come, such as Rostropovich, it 
was much different. 

The Rostropovich Party 

Riess: Let s talk about the Rostropovich visit, as a kind of contrast. 

Rowell: Well, we couldn t tell when he was going to come. He came first 
on about two days notice. Rostropovich never writes a letter. 
He says he never does. I have one thing that he wrote out, in my 
safe, where he says, "Yes. I will come. I will spend the whole 
evening. You can do anything with me you want." [laughter] With 
that and just a couple days notice we got over a hundred of the 
Cello Club members there, with their cellos. 

They gave us the Men s Faculty Club for the evening and we 
arranged a big dinner, which we brought ourselves. Each one of 
us cooked our very fanciest dish for him, because we knew that 
Rostropovich was a great connoisseur of wonderful food, loved to 
eat and have whatever else went with it. Terry Sharp, Irene s 
husband, took charge when Rostropovich arrived. We showed him this 


Rowell: whole long table of all of these delicacies and he went down and 
said, "Is there any egg or any milk in any of those things?" He 
couldn t eat anything with eggs or milk, and here were all these 
fabulous things for him! It was Russian Easter, and he is an 
absolute orthodox and of all those wonderful things that we had 
there were only a few he could have. That fabulous food! 

While that was going on in The Faculty Club, in Hertz Hall 
the kids were all coming. Nobody had known about it before and 
while we were eating they were rehearsing with Dr. de Coteau, who 
is one of our wonderful symphony conductors. Only about a 
hundred could get on that stage in Hertz Hall. There were about 
twenty-five or thirty left with their cellos and cello cases who 
couldn t even get on the platform. In the time while we were 
eating he had those people in the most beautiful order you ever 
saw, and those hundred cellos played for Rostropovich magnificently. 

One of Renie s little tiny girls, whose legs couldn t 
possibly reach the floor, was the concert mistress of this. She 
sat on the first chair and played like a dream. Rostropovich just 
couldn t take his eyes off her. He went up and kissed her. 

We had the people from the conservatory there , too . Then a 
group played the Villa Lobos for eight cellos. Wonderful music. 
Rostropovich jumped up and grabbed Bonnie s cello and played the 
solo part. We had loads of fun. 

Then he reached his arms out to the fullest and said , "I come 
give you a master class." That was what he wanted to do. 

Mstislav Rostropovich at Berkeley 

Rowell: However we once again felt, after having been through Casals, 
that we shouldn t handle it, that we should let the university 
handle it. That became very hard because he couldn t tell when he 
was going to be able to come. It was going to be when he was here 
conducting opera for San Francisco. So we didn t know until a very 
short time ahead, what days he would have free. We had to try 
people out very quickly and get the thing ready. 

It went well. We didn t have anywhere near as big a crowd 
for that as for Casals because we didn t have the notice to get 
the people from a distance here. 


Riess: Was Rostropovich at that time already the conductor of the National 

Rowell: No. What he was doing was conducting his opera that he did in 

Russia, the one that s very seldom done because it takes so much 
rehearsal time and overtime. He had done it in Russia many times 
and wanted to do it here. The musicians themselves actually gave 
him overtime; they got the union to say that they could. You 
have to get it down to the last dotted sixteenth for him! He ll keep 
them until two or three o clock in the morning. He was so tired 
doing that that that was the reason he didn t know when he could 
come over to us. 

He always has been wonderful to us here. Everytime he would 
jump off the plane he would come and do everything possible for us. 
Have I told about the first time? 

Riess: No. 

Rowell: Oh, all right. Well, the first time he came I don t think he was 
quite thirty years old. It was very early. He was playing the 
Prokofiev in San Francisco. Not the copy we have now, at all. It 
was still in manuscript. We arranged to have him come to Cello 
Club afterwards. It was not the present San Francisco Conservatory; 
it was still in two old buildings down on Sacramento Street. Sally 
Kell was our president at that time. So we arranged for Sally Kell 
to bring him. 

It happened to rain cats and dogs that day. We didn t realize 
that Sally had one of the old cars with only those black things 
that you had to button on in times of rain, and it was just a two- 
seater and she had to carry his cello and him out in it to this 
old place. 

They arrived and I was in the other building , trying to get hot 
coffee and things ready. Bonnie had a group in the main building 
to play for him. (We always had cellos playing for him when he 
came in.) He came in with his interpreter. He didn t speak any 
English at that time. They were playing away for him. Then, in a 
little while I heard somebody playing the piano and I thought, 
"If that isn t the most awful thing! Why is somebody at the 
conservatory sitting down and playing the piano when we have 
Rostropovich here! Of all times, this is perfectly terrible!" So 
I dashed over from one building to the other to see what was 
happening, and there was Rostropovich sitting at the piano, playing 
away for all he was worth. We hadn t realized at that time what 
a magnificent pianist he is also. 



Riess : 

Rowell : 

It was really a remarkable evening because it did have such 
informality to it, as we always do have. We had several people 
who were Russian there, because we didn t know he would have his 
own interpreter, so he had people speaking Russian to him that 
whole evening. I found someone left absolutely alone who had come 
with him and didn t seem to know anybody, so I started talking 
to him over in a corner, trying to find out who he was and what 
he was doing there. Not until the last did I finally find out, 
when he gave me his card, that he was in charge of all cultural 
affairs for the whole Soviet Union. This was Rostropovich s first 
trip out of Russia, so he was traveling with him every place, as 
well as his interpreter. 

About when do you think that was? 

I know you don t like years and 

[laughter] You know, at this moment I should be able to tell you. 
If you remind me , I know that I can look back in my date books and 
tell you just what it is. But it was either 58 or 59. 

The 1959 Casals International, at Xalapa 

Rowell: Have I told about going to Mexico? It was just about that same 

time. The Casals International was really something. It had met 
in Paris before and it was to meet in Mexico. Of course, everybody 
thought it would meet in Mexico City , but they found out that 
Casals had such a bad heart that he shouldn t be above five 
thousand feet. (Mexico City is between seven thousand and eight 
thousand, I believe.) So they put this Casals International into 
the town of Xalapa, between Vera Cruz, on the sea coast, and 
Mexico City, right in the mountains. A beautiful little old, 
old Mexican city. 

Bonnie Hampton was going down to play for that. This was 
before our master class up here. There were about nineteen 
performers from all different countries. The judges were people 
like Villa Lobos and Rostropovich, Zara Nelsova, Sadlo from 

Riess: It was a competition? 

Rowell: Very definitely, with each country sending one person to it. 
France, England, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Finland. 

Riess: And Bonnie for America? 


Rowell: Yes. I ll get them all for you. There were nineteen contestants. 

I ll never forget the first day of that. It was in a school 
building with a very narrow auditorium and a very, very high stage. 
Down in front were the eight high handcarved chairs by high I mean 
they came way up above a person s head where the eight judges 
sat in a semicircle. 

Those nineteen performers had to come out and the thing they 
had to start with was the unaccompanied sixth Bach suite. That 
is the hardest suite to play, and the most technical suite. Each 
of those nineteen people had to come out and play that first 
movement of it alone, before they played anything else. I felt 
for each one of them. Some played it very beautifully, and some 
of them did not play it quite so well. Some of them survived that 
particular round, and then there was another round. 


Riess: Rostropovich was down there? 

Rowell: Yes. He was one of the judges. Zara Nelsova was one of the other 
judges. Of course Zara, I knew well before that. Her sister lived 
in Berkeley. 

The judges stayed in a very fancy, beautiful old Spanish home 
and had everything served to them. We just stayed wherever we 
could find a place in town. I would hear from Zara different 
stories. "Oh, what do you think happened last night? Somebody 
knocked on my door and I went and there was nothing there except 
a sheet with a great big poinsettia on top of it. Then it began 
moving." Of course, it was Rostropovich underneath the sheet! 
[laughter] He was always pulling tricks on everybody. The judges 
were having the most marvelous time together, having all their meals 
served to them in style and yet having all this. 

The Judges , Judged 

Rowell: After it was over these nine great cellists were to each give an 
individual concert in the great Bellas Artes Theater of Mexico 
City, where each name was emblazoned in front of the theater in 
lights, ten feet high. Each one had to give a concert. 

Now the tables were turned on them. While they d been 
having a wonderful time judging the others, now they were all 
nine to judge each other. This was really hard because very seldom 


Rowell: is an artist ever where he hears another one, and most certainly 
no one cellist ever has to play for eight other artists as great 
as he is and have them right in the front row. 

The funniest thing of all happened between Rostropovich and 
Milos Sadlo from Czechoslovakia. Sadlo had brought his very best 
student, who happened to win the first prize. I don t think it 
was related , because he was the only teacher there who did have 
his student with him at all times. Rostropovich and Sadlo were 
outstanding artists. Rostropovich was just gaining his greatest 
recognition, but very few people knew that he was playing with 
David Oistrakh, the greatest violinist of that era, a Russian. 
Sadlo was playing with the same one. I have trio records by both 
of them with Oistrakh. So there was that competition between the 
two of them. 

It shows how unsure even Rostropovich was in that era, that 
they both thought they had to try their programs out before they 
played in the great big Mexican theater. So, Sadlo arranged to go 
to the town of Monterrey which was , I would say , a thousand miles 
away, flying and give his concert there. Rostropovich arranged to 
go to, oh, the one where everybody goes, where they do all the art 

Riess: Guadalajara? 

Rowell: Guadalajara, I guess. I think that was it. Of course, those 

were diametrically opposed places. In fact, they were giving them 
on the same evening. 

The next morning , Sadlo was there for breakfast and came over 
to speak to Zara and myself, and said, "I came in last night after 
my concert. But my pianist wanted to stay until this morning, and 
the airport is fogged in." [laughter] We both said, "That s 
all right . It will be cleared up by noon and you will be all 

At noon he came, shakingly, and said, "It has not cleared up 
yet." Zara said, "You better get ready right away and see who in 
town has the music." "Oh, his accompanist had the music with him." 

Well, he found an accompanist somewhere. Where he found the 
music, I don t know. But he had to come out and give that concert 
without his own pianist. I don t know exactly what the original 
program was. He played some of the same things. He played the 
A-Major Beethoven, but he played it completely from memory and forgot 
it in several places. He played Kol Nidre; I think he even forgot 
some of that. I can t remember what all else he played. He played 
very beautifully but, of course, he didn t play to suit himself at 


Rowell: The review was not very complimentary. It came out very early 

in the morning. I was one of the first ones down and saw him the 
next morning just before he left. He flew out before anybody 
saw him. 

Riess: Devastated. 

Rowell: Yes. Put that down just a second. [break in tape] [shows autographed 
photo] I knew what it meant to him to do it and I told him I had 
enjoyed the program. So I think that s why he wrote, ""With all 
my heart and remembrances of five days in Xalapa, 1959," on his 
picture to me. 

A Story about Rostropovich at Xalapa 

Rowell: Then Rostropovich had to give the concert the next night. Zara 
Nelsova had had a room just opposite him with a small courtyard 
between. She came and asked me if I would mind changing rooms 
with her, because she didn t like to practice there and have him 
hearing her all the time. [laughter] She had to give her program 
later. I said, no, I didn t mind at all. She moved upstairs 
where I was and I came down and had that room right opposite 
Rostropovich. Of course, I never turned my lights on when I 
went in, and he always practiced facing that window. So I did see 
him practicing and got an awful lot of seeing him at work. 

It came the night for his concert and there was a knock on 
my door. It was Zara Nelsova. She said, "Margaret, you have to 
come with me. Rostropovich is just practicing and practicing away 
there, and he has to be going in less than half an hour. We have 
to get him to stop." I didn t want to go, necessarily, but we did. 
She banged and banged on his door until he came. 

There he was. I have never seen such a sight in my life! 
He had more hair then than he does now and the little strands of 
it were hanging down over his face. He had a shirt of some kind, 
opened down to the waist, absolutely sopping wet, the perspiration 
just rolling down his face. He said, "I cannot play! I cannot 
play!" He held out his hands, helplessly, "I cannot play a 
note! I cannot play!" 

Zara said, "You go and take a shower. We re calling a taxi. 
We will be down in the lobby in twenty minutes for you." 

But he said, "I cannot play! I cannot play!" [laughter] 





We said, "No matter. You go and get a shower." So, we waited 
and he finally came down. I sat there at the theater in fear and 
trembling somebody said, "Why did you?" for him to come out 
and play. He came out and, of course, played like an angel. 
Every number was remarkable. So, it shows what an artist does go 
through behind the scenes. Isn t that marvelous? 

How interesting for you, 

That s really a kind of different 

Very, very different. I ve told that to people and they can 
hardly believe it, because you don t see that often in a very 
great artist. It is that thing of having to come out and play for 
all your [peers]. When else do you ever find all the people you 
dread playing for out in the front seats in one evening? 

Dr. Leo Eloesser 

Riess: And the Casals Internationals, are they still going on? 

Rowell: No. This was only while he was alive. I don t think they had 
ones after that. There had been one in Paris before that. 

But people came from all over. A very lovely person, Dr. Leo 
Eloesser, came down with his viola from San Francisco. Did I 
mention him before? He was my doctor in San Francisco. I think I 
mentioned him helping me out, didn t I, when I was ill? 

Riess: You didn t mention him by name. I would have remembered the name. 

Rowell: I might just go back then to say that when I was on the air on NBC, 
broadcasting, I knew I was quite ill, and when they took my 
temperature it was over 104. I couldn t stop. I had to play. 
But as soon as I could, I called Stanislaus Bern, who had always 
been my teacher, and he said, "I ll come right down." Mr. Bern 
said, "I ll send a doctor to you right away." It was Dr. Eloesser, 
one of the greatest surgeons in the United States, and all I had 
was the flu! 

Little did I know how much I would have to do with him later 
on, because he organized the Spanish relief effort, the doctors 
going over there, had a couple of train-loads of doctors from the 
whole United States going over to Spain. All around the Bay Area 
we spent a long time during that Spanish Civil War giving 
concerts, because we all loved Dr. Eloesser and his cause. At a 


Rowell: string quartet here, in my home, I fed one hundred twenty-five 

people dinner one evening. They were sitting on my stairs, they 
were sitting every place under the sun. Dr. Eloesser spoke and 
then the quartet played. 

I remember that evening very well. Everybody crowded in and 
there was a very fine person there, prominent in the Berkeley Co-op, who 
happened to be a Communist. He didn t get inside, but he was on 
my front steps. The FBI were here in no time. I had no idea that 
I was on the FBI list for ages because of that quartet concert, 
[laughter] Dr. Weilerstein had to report back to Washington because 
he had come to the quartet concert at my home! [laughter] 

It was after this, then, that Dr. Eloesser went to Xalapa. 
Casals had an orchestra down there in Xalapa at the time, and 
Dr. Eloesser played in it. He had just married, very late in life. 
He stayed at Xalapa for the remainder of his life living very 
quietly. Every morning the people who needed care would line up 
outside his house. They never knew how famous he was. He gave 
all his services from that time on, as far as I know, kept on 
playing his viola and just loving Xalapa. 

The wife that he had married had been an anthropologist. 
Xalapa was filled with old things. I have my picture taken with 
one of those big heads beside me that they were just unearthing 
at that time. 

Riess: Was Dr. Eloesser the doctor for musicians, particularly? 

Rowell: Well, he always was for musicians up here, but he never came back 
again after that. 

Riess: But up here? 

Rowell: Oh, yes. Any musician could have him for anything. He was a very 
great surgeon. One of my dearest friends had had incurable 
tuberculosis of the spine. She had suffered so much through her 
life that I thought Dr. Eloesser was the only person in the world 
who could help her. However, he had no concept of time whatsoever. 
If you had a string quartet concert he was just as likely to come 
in at about half past eleven at night with his viola. "Oh, you ve 
been waiting for me?" He s always looking out for his patients 

I asked him if he would see this friend of mine sometime. I 
brought her up from San Jose, which was a hard thing. She 
stayed with me. We had a four o clock appointment in the afternoon 
and I sat with her in his office until six o clock. I had to go to 


Rowell: broadcast. I came back after broadcasting and she still hadn t 

gotten in. But we waited until he saw her, and he was wonderful 

to her. Of course, he never sent a bill or anything. That was 

no matter. He could do almost anything. 

More on Rostropovich and Xalapa, 1959 

Riess: Xalapa was the first time that you met Rostropovich? 

Rowell: Oh no! He had been with the San Francisco Symphony before that. 

Riess: And you feel that you got to know him? 

Rowell: Oh, yes. Now, Rostropovich I feel I know, I won t say very well, 
but from the first time that Cello Club entertained him he felt 
[comfortable]. I think it was the very fact that we did have 
the Russian people to speak to him, that we were a group of young 
people. Usually after concerts I find it s the society ladies who 
entertain you. I ve been to them and I can t stand them. I don t 
mean the society ladies , I mean that entertainment of the sweet 
little food to eat, the lovely napkins and plates and everything. 
That isn t the way we do it in Cello Club, at all. I think he 
liked the enthusiasm and the young people, along with the 
professional players, that we always have the whole gamut of it. 

So every time he came here he asked to be met by us. We would 
meet him at the airport and somebody would take him wherever he 
was going, whether it was San Francisco or this side of the bay. 
I can remember meeting him once at the San Francisco Airport. 
He was going to stay at the Hotel Claremont. Just as we were 
approaching the Hotel Claremont , there was my son Galen on a rope 
coming down the front tower of the hotel! It couldn t have been 
timed better. I was just shocked! It happened to be a carnival 
with artificial snow outside and everything else. 

Rostropovich wasn t at all impressed by him. He said, "I don t 
want to stay here. I want to go to your house." So we came right 
up here. He was used to coming here by that time. He practiced 
and practiced away with his pianist. I guess we d picked up the 
pianist, too. When he got through he shoved his cello under the 
piano and said, "I ll be back tomorrow." [laughter] So he trusted me 
with his cello all night, which I thought was quite a trust. 

Riess: He didn t stay in your house though? He went back to the hotel? 


Rowell: Oh, yes. We didn t have any room for him. He did go to one of 
my student s homes to rehearse, because I had to teach. The 
student took quite a number of pictures of him, which I have. 

Riess: Was there any consideration of him becoming the conductor of the 
San Francisco Symphony? 

Rowell: I never heard of it. 

Riess: The National Symphony got him. 

Rowell: He loves to conduct. I can understand this completely. He 

without doubt was the greatest cellist who ever [lived] , he and 
Casals. He adored Casals. 

It was loads of fun to see Casals conduct the eight cellists. 
Wait just a minute, because I can find the program. 

[break in tape] 

Riess: These are the seven judges that went on to perform at the Bellas 
Artes. [looking at program] 

Rowell: Casals was the eighth. They were the judges in Xalapa. 

Andre Navarra is still considered perhaps the outstanding 
cello teacher of all Europe. Somebody just asked me this last 
week if he was still that. Milos Sadlo, from Czechoslovakia, is 
one of the greatest teachers of all times. He did teach the one 
who got the first prize there [in Xalapa]. 

Zara Nelsova is very well known in this country, perhaps the 
greatest woman cellist of today, I would say, without a doubt. 
And there is Mstislav Rostropovich however you pronounce that. 

Caspar Cassado is a very fine Spanish cellist and has done 
a very great deal for the cello. Maurice Eisenberg is very, very 
well known. He is no longer living, but he was Casals "right hand" 
and founded and carried on the International Cello Society of 
London after Casals death. Anyway, I was delighted when Mr. 
Eisenberg said, "Don t you want to hear me play Bach?" and took me 
up to his little room where he played the whole fifth suite for me. 

Riess: And then there s Adolf o Odnoposoff. 

Rowell: Oh, yes. He was from Mexico itself and he was very well known, 
he and his brother both, but he as a cellist. [sorting through 
various papers] Here the contestants are, ah ha! This is 
wonderful. Oh, [squeally laugh] you should see Bonnie in this 


Rowell: picture! It s so interesting to know where all these people are 
now! Let me just hand that program to you. You can see an awful 
lot happened down there, can t you? 

Riess: Yes. 

Rowell: Anner Bijlsma, I had forgotten that he was down there. He is 
internationally known and recorded. He comes to San Francisco 
almost every year. Gerhard Mantel was there. He flew down to 
see me when I was in Switzerland two years ago, from Germany. 
Josef Chuchro, from Czechoslovakia, is the one who finally got 
first prize. 

Bonnie played very beautifully and was in the finals. She 
had to use the same pianist as Chuchro. He had come with Chuchro 
and his teacher, Mr. Sadlo. It was apparent to me that the pianist 
saw to it that his close friend won. Bonnie played beautifully. 
She had been studying with Pablo Casals at this time and he was 
very fond of her. I ve never forgiven that pianist! 

That trip was altogether exciting. I had never traveled so 
far alone before, and finding a place in Xalapa to stay was quite 
an experience. I finally ended up in the home of Linni de Vries, 
who was a professor at the Xalapa University. 

Cello Club* 

Riess: The Cello Club was formed when? 

Rowell: We say 1950, but I think it was actually before that. It s hard 
for me to look back and have things correct. If you know me you 
know that words mean a lot to me and numbers mean almost nothing. 

Riess: Let s find out why the Cello Club began. 

Rowell: I would almost say the fetus of it was right in this living room 
that you re sitting in now, because I always had my students come 
together to play for each other. I thought everybody did, but 
they didn t; this was really rather unusual in those days, to 
have a teacher have her students come up and play for each other. 

Riess: These were just recitals? 

Rowell: Not recitals in any sense of the term. No outsiders here. The 
students would come up and everybody would play. I mentioned 
before that Bonnie and her dear friend Ellen Odhner would always 

*also see Appendices 


Rowell: have something cooked up. They would take the Bach double violin 

concerto and work it out for two cellos, not already transposed, as 
they sometimes do today. Just reading it off the violin parts. 
They would do all sorts of things for surprises for me. It was 
a wonderful group of people and they felt very close to each other. 

Riess: Were they people of about the same ability? 

Rowell: No. All different. Ability wasn t the thing that mattered. It 
was playing the cello that mattered. There would be maybe twelve 
of us here on a Sunday. 

From that what happened was that Colin Hampton, who had been 
at the Royal Conservatory of Music [in London] where his teacher 
had the class get together, was used to having a group together, 
and I said to Colin, "Why don t we get both of our students 
together?" So that s what we did. So Colin is just as much in 
on the beginning of the real Cello Club as I am, because that s 
when it became not being only my students and began being his 
students also, and then opened to all cello players. People 
thought it was sort of a closed thing. After Colin and I came 
together with our students it was opened to any cellist anywhere 
to come and join. 

Riess : And did that happen? 

Rowell: When it happened, of course, was when we had big things like the 
Casals master class. At that time I think we had around three 
hundred members, which didn t happen other times. They had to be 
members to get in for tickets. Otherwise, we fluctuate up and down 
with our membership a great deal. But we have done so much through 
the years . I would say that Bonnie has been right back of it from 
the very beginning , even though she was such a youngster at that 

Riess: What has it actually done other than coming together to hear 
each other? 

Rowell: I would say it was the backbone of the Casals and Rostropovich, 
and other master classes. 

Riess: Do they raise money for scholarships? 

Rowell: Yes. We have a Cello Club competition every year and have 
about five different prizes. 

Bonnie Hampton is now president. We are meeting every month 
again. I think it was last year we met every two months, which 
didn t seem quite right. We re having some very interesting meetings 
this year. 


Rowell: Everybody brings their instrument at least for part of it. 

Sometimes we have other people. Laszlo Varga comes over and plays 
for us, and the visiting cellists come and play for us. We have 
meetings on all sorts of subjects. We have access to all the 
Casals films. We will be showing those I think next month, again. 
We show about three, in an afternoon or evening, of those master 
classes at Hertz Hall. 

Riess: How do you raise the money to offer the prizes? 

Rowell: I am actually embarrassed to ask. The biggest prize that the 
Cello Club gives is the Margaret Rowell Scholarship Prize and I 
don t know how they raise the money for it. [laughter] The person 
who got it this year has to come out from the New England 
Conservatory and I have to arrange for it. 

We have them, thank goodness, arranged so that there is a 
money scholarship with the presentation at the Berkeley Piano Club. 
We put on the concert, also. That s the biggest prize. The next 
prize is just a money scholarship. They are not awfully huge 
prizes. They go down until we have them for the nine, ten and 
eleven-year-olds . 

Riess: And the money scholarship is to be used wherever they re studying? 
Or is it used here? 

Rowell: They are not big scholarships. It s more for the attraction of 

doing it than it is for the scholarship. I don t think the money 
that the little twelve-year-olds get would go very far toward 
lessons. Maybe three or four lessons and that would be it. It s 
really the idea of it. I ve found out that it is not the amount 
of money in the scholarship, it s the fact that you re competing 
with somebody and winning a prize that really counts. 

Riess: Is Cello Club San Francisco as well as East Bay? 

Rowell: It has been East Bay oriented, but its membership is open to all. 
Some come from Sacramento and San Jose. It usually always met 
here, in Berkeley. But lately we ve been meeting quite often at 
the San Francisco Conservatory because they have such wonderful 
facilities there for us. It varies, where we meet and what we do. 
We changed the name from Berkeley Cello Club to California Cello 

Riess: Is there more cello strength in the East Bay than there is in 
San Francisco? 

Rowell: Yes. 


Riess: Is there an equivalent group in San Francisco? 

Rowell: I would say that the conservatory is beginning to come up to it. 
But there always have been more cellos in the East Bay. It s 
been noted for it. They say that this is a conglomeration of more 
cellos, around the bay, than almost any other place in the United 

Riess: Why is that? 

Rowell: Well, I don t know. 

Riess: [accusingly] Are you responsible for that? 

Rowell: [laughter] I don t think so. I think that we have gotten excited 
over it. Have you got one of those Robert Commanday articles 
someplace that says something like that? Well, I don t believe 
it. I think it was all of us together that really did it. I think 
that this just really grew. The cello has caught on every place, 
but I think there was a nucleus of cellos here for a long time 
when they did not have as much on the East Coast. But I think 
that the East has more than caught up with us now. All over the 
world the cello has caught on. 

Cello Popularity 

Riess: I asked you earlier why the cello was so popular. I supposed 

that it was because of the big personalities, like Casals. You 
said, no, it had to do with the instrument itself. 

Rowell: I think it has to do with the instrument itself because if it 

were that, think of your violinists. Think of your Yehudi Menuhins 
and your Isaac Sterns, who also have done so much for the world as 
Casals did, who are such wonderful human beings as well as 

Riess: True. Why suddenly was the instrument popular? 

Rowell: I would say first of all it is the range of the instrument. The 
violin can go down to the g below middle c, and that s all, and 
three octaves above middle c. But the cello can go clear down 
two octaves completely below middle c , and yet it can go as high 
as anybody wants to go. It can go, these days, practically as high 
as you want to hear on a violin. [all the preceding illustrated 
on piano] The violin, in all those artificial harmonics, could go 




Yes. That Shostakovich trio starts out very high. 

The cello is as high on that as you ever want to hear anything, 
extremely high. Some of those are artificial harmonics, some are 
not. You can get almost everything out of a cello. You get that 
tenor range and the contralto range and the bass range out of a 
cello, but you get [only] a soprano range out of a violin. 

But that was always the case, 

Why, suddenly, was the cello 

Rowell: Radio and records, I would say. 

You get used to those high notes of the violin, just as you 
do to your Galli-Curcis and great sopranos of that day. But our 
speaking voices have gotten lower, much lower. Eleanor Roosevelt 
is a very good example of that. She had to take lesson after 
lesson to lower that voice so that she could speak over the air. 
We do not have those feminine voices. You go to another country 
and you hear them. It would be interesting to find out whether 
those are countries where they have cello as much as they do here. 
But we really have lowered our voices much more than we know. 

In every way the cello encompasses that whole rich middle 
range. That s where it s at home. Now, the cello is not as good 
as a solo instrument with a symphony today as a violinist or a 
pianist, either one, because its overtones do not carry as well. 
But on recordings it s just as good, if not better. Recording a 
cello concerto with a symphony orchestra, you put that microphone 
in just the right place for the cello. It has the most gorgeous 
sound. The cello does not have to press or do anything to get 
its beautiful tone and be carried out on that record. If you were 
in Louise Davies Hall or the opera house , you would not hear that 
cello well enough with the symphony orchestra. 

I sat on a board in San Francisco with the symphony people. 
You remember Alfred Frankenstein, the wonderful reviewer at least 
I thought he was for art and music in San Francisco? 

Riess: Yes. 

Rowell: He wanted to form a committee to get more young players and more 
of the oncoming great players to be soloists, rather than all the 
same routine of the same great artists always coming. So we held 
many meetings with the symphony conductor and the manager of the 
symphony to try to introduce that. 


Rowell: They would sit on that side, the symphony manager and conductor, 
and say, "No, we can t have cellists. There s only one cellist 
who can carry and that s Rostropovich, maybe Zara Nelsova. No 
other cellist can we have." I know we went eight years once without 
a single cello soloist with the San Francisco Symphony. This was 
because they didn t think the cello carried out enough. So that 
can happen. 

Riess: But can t they amplify? 

Rowell: No, it s just not done. I don t know what s going to be done 

about it. You do sometimes amplify, when people play out of doors 
and such things. I ve heard Zara when she was amplified. You 
don t enjoy it as much. If there is some amplification, they 
may be able to handle some of it. 

Flint Hall in Cupertino is one of the finest halls to play 
and to be heard in that I know. I love to go down there to hear 
cellists. I m very particular what hall I hear a cellist in. 

Riess: Well, Hertz is fine because it s small. 

Rowell: Oh, well, but that s so small. Zellerbach isn t quite so good. 

However, I heard Fournier there and sat up in the gallery and liked 
it very much. 

Flying Around, 1965, 1966, 1967 

Riess: In 1965, according to this list of your activities, you were 

appointed by the American String Teachers Association [reading] 
"to select music and train young cellists from fifteen states to 
perform at the national ASTA convention in Dallas, honoring Casals. 
Casals was ill and could not attend." 

Rowell: Yes. But he heard it all. The Bell Telephone Company got the 
award that year from the American String Teachers because what 
they did in that instance was to connect Casals right through 
from Puerto Rico and had him talking to us right in the assembly 
hall, even though he was ill. Our whole concert was given to him 
in Puerto Rico, right from there. So the telephone company got 
the award as being the outstanding contributors. It was the 
same award they gave me in 1977, but they gave it to the Bell 
Telephone Company that year. 

Margaret Ave.ry Rowell bending to meet the needs of musicians. 

Above: Teaching Chamber Music at Mills College, Oakland, California, 
summer 1957. 

Below left: With unidentified cellist, Greensboro, North Carolina, 


Below right: With cellist Paul Tortelier, 1983. Photograph by Ritchie . 


Margaret R owe 11: Early Work Shops, Master Classes and Lectures * 

March, 1965: Appointed to National A.S.T.i. Cello Co. to select music 

and train yonnsr eellists from fifteen states to perform at 
National .S.T.A. Convention in Dallas, honoring Pablo Casals. 
(Casals was ill and could not attend.) 

June 22, to 

July 9, 1966: Gave two-hour lecture-demonstation every afternoon, follwwine 
Mr. Suzuki s Workshop in the morninp at San F ra ncisco State 
University. Prof. Haderer (violin), and myself (cello), brought 
Suzuki to S. F. State for tne two-week workshop. 

19^7: Taupnt course for string teacners at University of Soutnern 
California Summer Session. 

Lecture-demonstration at A.S.T.A. Western Conference in Las 
Vegas, Nevada. Eignt cellists, (my students at S.F. State) 
performed Bach Chorals and tne Villa-Lobos Bacniances No. 1 
for eigfit cellos, and ten illustrated eacn point of my lecture. 

1968r Gave vorkshop at National A.S.T.A. in Seattle. Trained four 

of my private students, (all 12 years old), to illustrate each 
of my Basic Principles and ended with their playing the First 
movement of the Hayden C Major Concerto in unison including 

Later T - r orkshops and Lectures 

Feb., 1QJ3: ^estern M. F.. N. C.-A. S.T.A. in Tucson, Arizona 

Texas A. S.T.A. (San Antonio, February 8,9,10) 

March I97h: Lectures, Workshops, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada 
June, 197h: T>T orkshop: cellists of San Jose Youth Symphony 

June-July: Paul Holland Vorkshop, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 
and a second Holland Workshop at San Jose State University 

Aug. 3-17: International String Workshop, Cambridge, England Paul Holland 
Aug. 21: Kato Havas Workshop, England. Taught cello class. 

Sept 27, 

Dec. 6: Stanford University Special Master Class for cellists. 

Student performers. Principles of Teaching. Open to auditors 

for fee. (Once a week, two-hour sessions). 

A list prepared by Margaret Rowell 


Rowell : 




Rowell : 


Rowell ; 


Rowell : 

I was always interested in the American String Teachers Association. 
It had its local functions, its northern California, southern 
California. Being interested in teaching it was automatic that I 
should be interested in an organization like that. 

When you were selecting the music and training these cellists 
from fifteen states, you went to Dallas and did work there? 

Yes. We just had one day to do it in. I sent them the music 
ahead of time. I had things that played very, very easily and 
sounded very beautiful on the cello. I had them, basically, on the 
melody part and then had string teachers, with violins, violas and 
cello, a double string quartet, playing their accompaniment, which 
sounded beautiful. 

It s the equivalent of the master class then? 

It s that kind of 

No. I wasn t teaching except a little bit of training of the whole 
bunch together. I didn t hear them play individually at all. 
There wasn t time for it. You got down there and had that one day. 
In fact, I finally did not conduct them. I don t like to conduct. 
I like to train them but I don t like to stand up there and conduct. 
I turned it right over to the conductor who was doing the rest of 
the program. 

In 1966 you gave the two-hour lecture demonstrations each afternoon 
following Mr. Suzuki s workshop in the morning? 

That was exciting. Mr. Suzuki I just adored. He would illustrate 
it in the morning and I would turn it around to cello in the 
afternoon. David Commanday was one of the students who would 
come over in the afternoon and play. It was very impromptu. I love 
to have it that way. I don t like a staid thing. And I knew I 
could depend on them to do what I wanted illustrated. 

Then in 1967 you taught a course for string teachers at the 
University of Southern California Summer Session. 

Yes. That was very interesting. Phyllis Glass was in charge of 
that part of the music department. She had myself and Elizabeth 
Mills, whom I consider one of the finest violin teachers in the 
whole nation, each teach a course at USC. It was very interesting. 
They came from as far away as Canada. They were all teachers in 
that course. It was loads of fun to have them for that length of 
time and work with them. I enjoyed it tremendously. 

Riess: A very sympathetic group, the teachers? 


Rowell: Yes. 

Riess: You talked earlier about the competition, that it wasn t the 
prize but the competition of one student against another that 
was exciting. 

Rowell: Well, what I meant when I said that was that a person loves to 
say, "I won this." I guess the winning over somebody else is 
the part that I don t like to think about as much. There is ecstasy 
and tragedy in every competition. 

Riess: Yes, and the woman who is transcribing this oral history, said to 
me at some point, "But why did she go on if it was so difficult to 

Rowell: [laughter] That is funny. That is marvelous! Everybody finds it 
that way, almost everybody. There are a few people who really 
enjoy performing, and perform better for an audience, but very 

Riess: Many of us do things that are really a challenge to ourselves, but 
it s so obvious in a musician, where there is so much pain about 
performing, and yet that s what it s all about. 

Rowell: I find with my own students, those who really have too much inside 
them that they want to give so terribly much, that they re sure 
they can t possibly get it all out, those are the ones who are 

Riess: That same year you did a lecture-demonstration at ASTA Western 
Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Rowell: That was loads of fun. I was teaching at San Francisco State at 
that time. I took eight of my players down. They were doing the 
Villa Lobos [Bachiances No. 1], which is a difficult number, at 
least I think it is, to really get down in very good form. We 
had them ready to take down there, and then found the school 
wouldn t pay any of our expenses. We had to take these eight 
cellos down on the plane, and how to do it was really something! 
It costs so much to take a cello, usually a straight half fare, 
and that s plenty. 

San Francisco State said they d contacted all the airlines 
and done everything they could. There was no way they could 
possibly send them. They couldn t afford to pay that amount. So 
it was all off and we couldn t go. 


Rowell: I took it in my own hands. I put a sheet out on this front room 

rug and tried to figure out how I could get eight great big cellos 
in their hard cases in the least space. I called up one of the 
airlines and told them that I wanted to see them. I showed them 
the diagram that I had of the eight cellos. 

He finally took pity on us and said, "What you need is one of 
our pods." So he had a person come right to the main lobby of 
the airport and put the cellos in and take them down in that pod. 
They took it as baggage, no extra charge, very nice. 

It was really a lovely occasion. Not only did they play, 
but we illustrated everything for them. There again I had to 
speak, and I had two of those players, Becky Rust and Roslyn Thorpe- 
they re just beautiful cellists today illustrate everything under 
the sun, upside down, all around, everywhere on the cello, showing 
that there wasn t anything they couldn t do on that instrument, 
even though they were just going to San Francisco State. They 
did outdo themselves in their playing, so it was really a lovely 
occasion. I think we all had a good time. I don t remember a 
thing about Las Vegas though! [laughter] 

Teaching at Mills, San Francisco State, University Extension, and 
UC Berkeley 

Riess: When you taught at Mills and San Francisco State, did you have 

students who were enrolling because they wanted to work with you? 

Rowell: I don t know. This is funny. You see, I don t think that I had 
any name as a teacher. If I have, I think it has been acquired 
in the last few years and absolutely, grossly exaggerated. I can 
say that. I mean, I know it is. In those days I didn t think I 
had any name at all or any reason for anybody to be coming to study 
with me who wouldn t come anyway. 

When you ask about Mills , I would not say that I had 
outstanding students at Mills, at all. No. I love Mills. I love 
the surroundings. I love to drive out there, I love the music 
building, and I enjoyed teaching there, but I would never say that 
the students came there because of cello, except for Sally Kell. 
She came because I gave her a scholarship for all the four years. 

Now, for San Francisco State, I did have very interesting 
students and quite a number of them have gone on professionally. 
I really enjoyed teaching there very much. 


Riess: Its music department has a good reputation? 

Rowell: I guess so. I don t know how it is today. I can t answer that. 
I enjoyed my being there at that time. I did feel as if I had 
some very good students. I would have around twelve students, 
which is quite a lot just for cello. They developed well. 

Riess: When you were on the staff at Mills, did that mean that cello was 
offered as a subject, or was it private lessons? 

Rowell: Very few take it at Mills. I was teaching so much privately at 

that time. It was funny. People paid more attention to my teaching 
at Mills than any other place I ve ever taught. But I think it s 
because the newspaper published a picture of me and said I was 
going to teach at Mills. People think I m still teaching there, but 
I stopped years ago, and I think it was about 58 or "59 that 
I went to San Francisco State which was much more of a challenge 
in every way. 

Riess: Was college teaching lucrative? 

Rowell: No. Mills pays you by the lesson. If the student takes a lesson, 
you are paid. If they re busy that week, they don t. The Mills 
student is not geared to professionalism. 

Riess: And San Francisco State? 
Rowell: It was much better. 
Riess: How about at Berkeley? 

Rowell: My salary is nothing, or practically nothing. You re paid by the 
lesson there, also, which is a very poor way to have it, an 
extremely poor way to have it. 

Riess: Have you been teaching at Berkeley? 

Rowell: Yes. I ve been teaching. I think I started in teaching in 1958, 
first in the Extension Division. That I thoroughly enjoyed. I 
loved that. 

Riess: Why was that better? 

Rowell : They paid me much better there than they do at the regular 

university now. Can you imagine that! I taught at night. People 
came who really wanted to study the cello J I would begin them on 
the cello, even though they were adults. I think that I enjoyed 
that more than anything I ever did. 


Rowel 1 : 

Riess : 
Rowel 1 : 



Rowell : 


I also coached chamber music through extension. That I adored 
doing. One of the first groups that I taught in chamber music 
had Don Weilerstein, aged nine, in it and Caroline Lewis, the 
sister of Mortimer Adler and the wife of Dr. Leon Lewis, who is 
playing today very beautiful piano. Caroline Lewis plays all the 
time for the University Music Section. She s quite a concert 
pianist. We laughed at the difference in ages- 
One of the fellows that I started in cello there, I don t 
know how he ever did as well as he did. He took a couple of years 
from me there. When I went back to Washington, D.C. I visited 
him. He has a family of four children. They all play musical 
instruments now, and he s still playing his string quartets. So 
I m very happy for that. 

In addition, there was also some teaching at Berkeley, in the 
music department? 

I didn t teach in the music department itself until quite recently. 
I started teaching at UC itself maybe twelve years ago, and I m 
still there. 

Are you developing some good students at Berkeley? 

Yes, I had some fine students. Cathy Allen has taken from me the 

last two or three years. I hate to say it, but I didn t think that 

she was particularly talented when she came to me. 

on" and she got the Hertz Scholarship this spring. 

in London, England, studying with William Pleeth, the teacher of 

Jaqueline Du Pre. 

But she "caught 
She s right now 

Quite a number have done very [well]. Paul Hale is one of 
my favorites. He took from me while he was going to Cal, all his 
four years there, and developed into a perfectly beautiful soloist, 
and I m very, very happy with him. Now he s in the Oakland Symphony. 

What is the difference between the conservatory student and 
the university student? 

Of course the conservatory student should be much more advanced. 
Not necessarily so. I would say that I would put Paul Hale and 
Cathy on a calibre with any of my conservatory students. Paul 
Hale is on the faculty now with me, teaching at Cal, having just 
graduated. He went through his four years majoring in engineering 
and played the cello all the time. I think he gave at least one 
Hertz Hall concert a semester, not a year, but a semester while he 
was going through. 


Rowell: He brought up "Schelomo," which is to me one of the most gorgeous 
things by Ernest Bloch for cello. I thought, "Oh, he can t 
possibly play this," but he tried out and won the Cal concerto 
competition and played the "Schelomo" beautifully with the Cal 

I ve had many others of my students solo with the symphony. 
Milton Saier was one of my students a long time ago and he soloed 
with "Schelomo" with the Cal Symphony. He majored in biochemistry. 
He is a full professor of biochemistry now, at UC San Diego. I ve 
just talked to him within the last few weeks and he s doing a great 
deal with his cello. He said, "I m playing better than I ever 
played in my life." He has three children, a wonderful wife, a 
graduate of the Royal Academy in London in piano. 

I m very interested in these people who play very well, who 
are really concert calibre, and yet they have gone on with another 

I sometimes prefer these people to the conservatory students. 
Of course, it depends on the inner stamp of the individual, not 
so much on their training , whether they have developed themselves 
as an artistic individual, and whether they re really truly 
interested in music. If they re excited about it and have a 
good technique, and really love music and want to play, they re 
going to play. 

Paul, you couldn t keep from playing. The same with my Cathy 
Allen, who just graduated and played the Imbrie concerto. You 
couldn t keep her from playing. She wanted to play all the time. 

Riess: But that pressure that the conservatory students exist under, you 
don t think that that s a positive thing? 

Rowell: Well, I don t know. That pressure may not be so great. I think 
that my students get more chance to play at the University of 
California, even in chamber music and so on, than they do at the 

Riess: How involved do you get in their lives? I mean, you might very 

well recommend that one be at one place or another, for instance. 

Rowell: I won t interfere with that in any way. They have to choose 
where they want to go. I ll help. I mean, I may give some 
advice, but I don t know, I m not one for giving an awful lot of 
advice to young people. I think they have to make those decisions. 

Riess: I should think you d be one who d be asked for advice all the 


Rowell: Oh, I don t know, I do say that I m awfully happy when my people 
do want to have a regular education and not 

Riess: And not specialize? 

Rowell: Well, it could be specialized, too. It depends on the individual. 
Scott Kluksdahl found it very hard last year, his first year at 
Harvard, to do as much with the cello as he wanted to do. But 
he says this year he is getting along much better with the two. 
I hope that he may become a soloist. He is cut out for it. 

Kurt Herbert Adler, Henry Cowell, Madi and Ernst Bacon, and 
Julian White* 

Riess: You mentioned contact with Kurt Herbert Adler. 
come to the Bay Area? 

When did Adler 

Rowell: I don t know when he first came here, I really don t.** I know 

that he was called to conduct the UC Symphony, which was really no 
symphony at all. Very few musicians actually came to UC to major 
in music in those days. There were some good players, but it was 
a very weak symphony orchestra. This was probably before Roger 
Sessions time; Roger Sessions came when? I can look that up and 
see very easily [1945-1951]. But when he came he found a very bad 
orchestra, extremely weak. So he had them send right back for 
Barbara Lull Rahm to come out. We have already talked about 

Riess: When was Adler asked? Why was he asked? 

Rowell : I think he was asked to come out because the orchestra was in such 
a low, low state, and of course he didn t then have any name at all 
at that time that I remember. He came out, and I knew that he 
was going to conduct the UC Symphony. He d conducted some 
orchestras before that, I guess, but he 

Riess: He was not in San Francisco at that point? 

*[ recorded October 24, 1983] 

**Adler was in Chicago in 1938 and was with the San Francisco Opera 
in an assistant capacity. 


Rowell : 


Rowell ; 


Rowell : 

Oh no. He came to this coast to conduct the UC Symphony, which 
was very small. He found the whole orchestra very run down. 
They were almost incapable of playing. I don t know that he found 
any cellists. Within the first week here, just about, he called 
me and asked me if there were any cellists. 

How come he called you? 

I don t know. I guess I was teaching in the University Extension 
at that time. 

I had Bonnie Bell, as she was at that time, and her very best 
friend, Ellen Odhner and I don t know whether she had had any 
lessons before she came to me. The two of them were great pals. 
I imagine they were around fifteen at that time. I asked them if 
they would like to play. "Oh, sure," they d like to play up in 
the Cal orchestra. So they went up there and played under Adler 
for I don t know how long as long as he wanted them, I guess as 
long as he was there. I thought that was very brave, because 
nobody had the faintest idea that he was going to develop into 
the conductor that he did. 

Did that group become very good? 

It most certainly was better. I don t remember it being anything 
remarkable at all ever at that time. But it surely improved. 

You asked about Henry Cowell in your letter, and that s very 
interesting that you should mention Henry Cowell, because he s 
almost forgotten in this day and age, I would say. How did you 
happen to ask me about him? 

Actually, I m not sure now. 

I d heard of him and I knew he was 

I m surprised, because I didn t ever hear of him as a musician 
until I married Ed in 1936. But he [Cowell] was born in 1897. 
When I did hear about him, it was mainly through my Alameda County 
Music Teachers Association, which I think I joined almost 
immediately. They would talk about him in whispers and all this 
kind of stuff. [.laughter] I had to get in on the inside of it. 
Of course I knew he was the inventor of tone clusters, which were 
all the thing there. And that he used his fist and his elbow and 
everything else in playing, and was very fascinating. But at that 
time . I think when I first heard about him, he was in San Quentin 
and very few people know this. 

The music teachers were much older than I was, most of them, 
and I looked on them as a bunch of old music teachers. [laughs] 
You know what I mean? That sounds funny; they were wonderful people. 


Rowell: But they were very much interested in him and just took his 

side. They would go over to see him. They would do everything 
under the sun for him. They fought for his release. 

He was there because he was a homosexual. Isn t that 
interesting? I don t know whether that should be in or not. 

Riess: Of course it should. 

Rowell: In this day and age I think we re so 

[telephone interruption, and returns discussing telephone call] 

Rowell: She [Josephine Smith] talked it [disposition of piano] over with me 
the week before she died. 

I talked about Smithie and Albie [Mary Albro] I hope in here 
some place? 

Riess: You didn t talk about them. 

Rowell: They were my dearest friends. My sister Marion and I climbed with 
them everyplace in the Sierra. You know Smithie just died? And 
[laughs] the attorney called me up and said, "Can you give me this 
person s address? Can you give me his telephone number? Can you 
give me that? I gave him everything for every person he wanted, 

Smithie and I go back to nineteen thirty. She didn t take 
that big trip with us. 

Riess: She was a musician too, wasn t she. 

Rowell: She played the cello when she was young, but I never heard her play 
it. She d given that up before I saw her. 

Now we ll go on with this. 
Riess: All right. Henry Cowell went to San Quentin. 

Rowell: Yes. He was there for I don t know how long, I really have no 

idea, because I was a young bride at the time. Here I was going 
to those music meetings and hearing them whisper about it, you 
know, but those music teachers just stood behind him and said he 
shouldn t be there and that he should be out. It was really a 
crime that he was sent in, I can see now. 

I don t know how long he was there. I think that it was kept 
very quiet. I only say it because I appreciated right then my 
heart and soul went to those nice sedate, proper music teachers, 


Rowell: who were giving their all to see that their musician friend got 

out. I only knew him for his tone clusters and all the different 
things that he did. 

Riess: Interesting. 

Ernst and Madi Bacon? 

Rowell: Oh yes. Of course Madi was really responsible for all my connections 
with the university. I don t know when I first started in the 
music extension [1951?], but it was Madi who called me and asked me 
if I would teach in extension. She was the head then. 

Riess: Music extension was on this side of the bay? 

Rowell: Yes. They had offices in a tumble-down wooden two-story structure, 
off of Bancroft Way, where Zellerbach is now, facing Dana. 

I have to hand it to Madi. She built up a simply remarkable 
department out of nothing, and people flocked in to take lessons 
in everything from banjo to concert violin, cello, piano. She built 
the extension with her own enthusiasm and passed it on to Estelle 
Caen, sister of Herb Caen. It was under Estelle s management that 
Casals came first for a month and then later for two weeks of master 
classes. It was one of the first great master classes, and netted 
the university a neat sum! 

At first I had to have at least two people in the class to 
have a class. They wanted four in a class, but two could do it. 
I had several sets of two men start cello with me at that time 
from scratch. I can see one farmer coming in from Walnut Creek 
and another man coming in from Standard Oil putting the two of 
them together, telling them they had to get together during the 
week and practice and both of them developed into cellists. I 
can t get over it. I don t think I could do it today. 

Madi was very she of course was not a manager; she was a 
soloist, I would say. But she really fought for the people who 
taught under her, and I remember enjoying every minute of it. 

Riess: At that point was her connection with music as a choral director 

Rowell: No, I hardly knew that she was a choral director. She was just a 

thorough musician all the way through. She was a pianist basically 
and she taught singing, and so on. She made no point of it. She 
may have had the boys chorus at that time, and of course she was 
wonderful in that. I did get to know her very well through that, 
because some of my best students came from that . 


Rowell: Her brother Ernst is a fine composer who should be more widely 

known. He came right at the time when UC was going "all out" for 
the modern music, for which of course Roger Sessions and others 
made our campus world famous. Ernst Bacon s music will always 
stand by its own merit. It is beautiful, well conceived and belongs 
to no period. He gave me his beautiful cello sonata, which I 
immediately taught to Bonnie and to others. 

Riess: When you say that you could never do it again with those two men, 
the farmer and the oil company executive, is it just because it 
took so much psychic energy to put them together? 

Rowell: I don t know. I just [laughs] I don t know why I said that 

really. Yes, I think I get tired much sooner than I used to. I 
find that the length lesson that I used to give really tires me 

Riess: And that was working with a lot of grown-ups. 

Rowell: Oh, I enjoyed it. I loved it. I loved every minute of it. 

Riess: I put Julian White on this list, too. 

Rowell: Julian White was a very dear friend of mine. I don t feel as if 
I knew him that well, but I went to everything he did. And of 
course he lived close to me here. I thought he was a very great 

One of his students is coming within the next two weeks to 
the concert series here on the campus and will be playing in Hertz 
Hall. And I m going absolutely, because I watched him practically 
develop, and I think he s one of the great pianists. 

Julian White had a way that I thought was simply marvelous 
the phrase of the music, his touch on the piano was beautiful. It 
was bringing what I always wanted he was centered in his own 
great big fat body [laughs], and it centered right straight in and 
brought all the music right into him. So it was a beautiful 
touch. Then, with the depth of his understanding, he could just 
play for hours and hours and entrance you with his playing. But 
the fact that he could give that touch to his students was what 
fascinated me. 


Flying Around. 1970s 

Riess: Since we re working with this list, let me mention some of the 
workshops and lectures that you did in the 1970s. 

You were at the Western MENC-ASTA! 

Rowell: [laughter] Don t put it that way. Music Educators National 

Conference, and the American String Teachers Association. Now, 

Riess: That was in Tucson, Arizona, and then again in Texas, and 
Edmonton , Canada . 

Rowell: Those were all fairly close together there. 

Riess: It looks as if in 1973-1974 you were really running around. 

Rowell: I was. These were the years when my husband was in the convalescent 
hospital and I hated to leave him for even a day because I always 
spent every evening with him, but I found this very exciting. I d 
say, "Pay my way on a plane and I ll go anywhere." It was my only 

I took Carol Morrow with me to Tucson to illustrate for me. 
She did a beautiful job. She was in high school. She s tall and 
very very black. She was playing the "Pampeana" by Ginastera at 
that time, which she later played and won with to be soloist with 
the San Francisco Symphony. She illustrated everything for me, and 
they re still talking about her down there, because they loved her 
as I love her. We stayed several days and did it several different 

In Texas, I didn t take anybody with me because they were 
going to have somebody for me there. I thought I d just show them 
what to do and they would illustrate it, and that would be fine. 
I was so excited about really going to Texas. We were flying along 
and all of a sudden they announced that the plane wouldn t land 
in San Antonio. It was snowed in. 

We were just absolutely flabbergasted. I knew they were 
meeting me at the plane. In fact, I found out that they had a 
dinner in my honor that night, too. Anyway, we flew into Houston 
and sat, and sat. I ve never had such bad service in my whole 
life. We landed, I don t know what time of day there, but we had 
to claim our suitcases and sit, freezing cold, on a bench. We 
couldn t leave our suitcases and even go to the ladies room, let 


Rowell: alone ever have a meal. They had served us a little bit of 
breakfast, as I remember, when we left San Francisco, and we 
never got another taste of anything until after midnight that 
night . 

We sat there hour after hour, not knowing what was going to 
happen to us. It was already almost dark by the time they finally 
got us a bus it was still storming. There were mainly men in 
that bus. I think I was one of the only women, and the men were 
so nervous! They would just be jumping up and down because 
everything was iced over. The bus driver could not get on the 
main freeway because he didn t dare get up on any of the on ramps. 
He said that they were too dangerous. So we had to go clear out 
of town going through all the little streets, until we could 
finally get on a smooth place. Then he only had one windshield 
wiper that worked for him, so he could hardly see. It was snowing 

We finally got to the airport bus station about midnight, but 
there were no hotels for anybody to stay in of course, I had a 
reservation because there was a big rodeo there and everything 
was filled up. I tried to get in touch with my hotel and I 
couldn t. It was about two hours before they came down to get me, 
because there were no taxis. 

I was so starved when I got there ! I said to the hotel 
clerk, "I just can t stand it!" He was eating his sandwich, so he 
gave me half of his sandwich. I was never so thankful for food in 
my life. 

The next day the people who were supposed to come down and 
illustrate for me, from the University in Austin, couldn t get 
through, nobody could get through in that snow. But I took a 
little girl there who played the cello well and went right on with 
both my demonstrations, and they went very well. 

It wasn t the trip that I had planned but I enjoyed it, every 
minute of it. 

Riess: Such an adventure. And then you went on to Edmonton. 

Rowell: Oh, Edmonton. Yes. I have to go East this December, just a little 
over a month now. Somebody said, "What are you going to do in the 
cold?" And I said, "Oh, well, if I was in Edmonton at twenty 
below zero, I think I can take Indiana." 


Rowell: But Edmonton was very lovely. The University of Alberta is 

marvelous. I knew Claude Kennison, a very fine cellist who asked 
me to come up and give the master classes there, and give them a 
workshop and so on. I spent several days there and had just a 
wonderful time. 

Riess: I ve gone to master classes, and there s always the moment when 

the teacher picks up the bow and does the thing that makes everybody 
fall off their chair, it s so perfect. 

Rowell: And that I can t do. 

Riess: Do you take your own instrument, in fact? 

Rowell: No. I never take it with me. I can pick up their instrument and 
I usually can illustrate what I want with the bow. I don t tend 
to just sit down and play, but I can usually illustrate with the 
bow what I want. I think the whole idea is to really get them 
to do it. 

Of course, I love to take Renie along with me, who does play 
beautifully. The Paul Rolland workshops from 1974 to 1978, at 
the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, those were really a joy 
to give. The first year I didn t have Renie with me. She was 
a student the first year in the course. After that I had her come 
as my assistant and we worked together all the way through this. 

One of the magazines that came out lately said Paul Rolland 
was the greatest violin pedagogue and teacher of this country. I 
do think that in many ways he is , because he had wonderful ideas 
of teaching. How much my ideas are mine, and how much I ve taken 
from him, I can t tell you. I ve told you about meeting him at 
first and finding out that we agreed so completely in our basic 
concepts. I think it s still amazing. But it isn t. It s just 
as Suzuki and the great violinists of Europe are not as far apart 
as we thought they were. We thought we had to send our people to 
Europe for that finishing study. We no longer do, because they 
can get so much from Suzuki and finish with our wonderful 
conservatories here. 

Riess: You have Kato Havas listed. 

Rowell: Oh, yes. I d taught with her here before that. I haven t got 

all of that down. I went to England to teach at Cambridge. That 
was my first experience crossing the ocean. I didn t expect to 
like England. I wanted Paul Rolland to take us to Switzerland, but 
no, we were to go to England. And it s a beautiful place. The 
minute we got off the plane I fell right in love with England. 


Rowell: Kato Havas had told me that I would come down and stay in her 

house in the south, and that I would look out on one side at the 
Norman ruins and on the other side at the Isle of Wight, and 
that right at my door would be a cow. [laughter] It was exactly 
that way! It s very quaint and very lovely. 

Riess: What you did mention once was how you responded to the old Norman 
ruins . 

Rowell: Oh, yes. I took the train from London. Claude Kennison met me 
and took me to Kato s class for the first meeting. Here this 
house was, right out in an open field with the cows all around, 
and you had to open two gates to get into the house. I knew by that 
time that Kato didn t want any visitors. She s a very lovely 
person, but she also wants her own what should I say? quiet. 
She wants to be by herself a great deal. She doesn t allow any of 
her students to come out to the house. So when this person walked 
into the house I said, "Oh, pardon me, but what are you doing 
here?" She said, "Well, I happen to own this house." [laughter] 
I was the one who was taken back. 

She knew that I loved the out-of-doors, so she took me to a 
point that stuck out in the ocean right there, the ocean that went 
right across to France. There were very high cliffs, all green, and 
a little tiny stone church there that was pre-Norman. It was 
wonderful. When I saw everything there, I couldn t help it, I just 
flung myself down on to that green grass! Feeling that earth and 
that green grass under me, and being alone out there on that point, 
I thought it was wonderful. I think I may have shocked her [laughter] 

Grand Dame du Violoncello: Bloomington, Indiana, 1983 
[Interview 9: August 12, 1983 ]## 

Riess: We were going to talk more today about the workshops and so on 
that have been your life in the past years. 

Rowell: Yes, they didn t used to have them as much. Workshops now are 
what people run to, and it s so in everything. The medical 
profession and every profession has workshops for its people. 

Riess: They can be wingdings, ways for people to go off and do what 

appears to be serious for an hour in the morning and then play 
all the rest of the time. 


Rowell : 

Riess : 

Oh no , ours would wear you out ! 
night, yes, they really do. 

They do go all day long and 

Recently you got a tremendous award at Bloomington. 

Yes, at the University of Indiana at Bloomington. And that was 
really an award. But I feel as if I failed more there than anyplace 
I ve ever been. My ears bothered me in flying and the doctor 
prescribed Sudafed, so I just took mobs and mobs of it, and I 
didn t realize it acted practically as a drug for me. And here I 
was to give these two master classes , and I hardly knew what went 
on during them. The people were playing and I hardly heard them. 
I didn t do what I usually do in a master class, or in a workshop. 

They told me that they didn t care. Janos Starker said, "I 
don t care what you do, we re giving you the award. We re here 
to honor you, not for you to work for this." I really felt that 
people had come from all over to hear me, and that I didn t do it 
justice, but they surely did it to me. 

They put me up at the Hilton, and Janos Starker had great big 
bouquets for me in my room, and they waited on me hand and foot. 
Different cellists came from quite a number of different places, 
Canada and all over. One of them fell on the ice coming and I don t 
know what it was he broke, but it was quite a serious accident 
and he landed in a hospital. And something happened to another one 
on the way and so on ! 

Riess : Well , it s usually you who has an adventure along the way ! 

Those who came from far, were they people who had studied 
with you? 

Rowell: No, these were almost always the teachers from the universities, 
cello teachers. They were the fine teachers of the United States 
I would say, and Canada. 

Riess: And the students? 

Rowell: The students in the master class were from the University of 

Riess: The rest were coming to honor you by their presence. 

Rowell: Yes. And I didn t feel that I gave them anything really, and 
that has disturbed me ever since. 


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Rowell: Of course I was wined and dined. Janos Starker had all these 
dignitaries, everybody there for dinner. His home was one of 
those white mansions with the pillars and everything else, and I 
was very much impressed with it. "I have a very lovely wife who 
manages everything beautifully," he said. 

He took me aside, "Now I want you to come with me," and he 
took me to his wife s bathroom and wanted me to see it. It was all 
out of pure white marble, actual marble, and she has a sunken 
bathtub. He has a sign outside, "This is the room that Kodaly 
built." (Kodaly wrote the Unaccompanied Sonata for Cello, which 
Starker has recorded and made famous the world over, and he s 
gotten so much royalties from just that record alone that that 
money built this beautiful room for his wife. [laughter] So that s 
what the little sign means: "This is the room that Kodaly built.") 

Then he took me just beyond that and opened the door and I ve 
never seen anything like it. There was a swimming pool the whole 
length of the house, the biggest thing I ve ever seen in a home 
in my life. I would say it was at least the length of this whole 
house here, and heated; it was steaming right then in the evening. 
He says, "I go in every morning and every night and have a swim." 
I think that s a wonderful thing; that s what s kept him in 
excellent condition and has loosened him up in these years of his 
cello playing. Just imagine having that right there! 

So he was very, very, very good to me in every single way. 
From that point of view it was a wonderful thing, but I came home 
and felt very sad that I hadn t done more, and I haven t written 
all those people yet who came to see me, and I have more guilt 
hanging around me, but we ll get beyond that to something else. 

Riess: What was the name of that award? 

Rowell: I ll have to get it, because I can t tell you. [steps away briefly, 
then returns with materials] You don t want to spend too long on 
that. These are telegrams from different people, cellists who 
couldn t come basically saying they can t come. 

There it is. [brings document to interviewer] 

Riess: [reading] "Indiana University School of Music and Ava Janzer 

Memorial Cello Center proudly confers upon Dr. Margaret Rowell the 
title of Grand Dame du Violoncelle. " 

Rowell: You can say violoncello; that s its real name. 

Riess: "In recognition of her universal contributions for the art and 
teaching of cello playing." 


Riess: How many times has this been given? 

Rowell: This was the third time. It was given to Pierre Fournier from 

Switzerland and Raya Garbousova, who was there. This is the way 
I used to know her. [looking at picture] She was a delicate 
petite beauty. Now she s quite stout. 

Riess: Where is she from? 
Rowell: She was born in Russia. 

Riess: It s interesting. You re just a simple American girl among all 
these Europeans. 

Rowell: Oh yes, I should say so! [laughter] 
Riess: But of course you aren t. 
Rowell : I am ! 

Riess: How interesting that really most of that company of cellists is 

Rowell: Yes, oh yes, and Fritz Magg! I must put Fritz Magg s name in, at 
the University of Indiana. He is European trained and a beautiful 
cellist, just a beautiful cellist, and a wonderful teacher. I 
always use his books for all of my students, Fritz Magg s Basic 
Exercises. I think he s one of the finest teachers in the whole 
United States without a doubt. He has been my friend for years. 
I ve had him out at the conservatory several times for master 
classes. In fact he was here after that in February, giving one 
course at the conservatory. 

Riess: Was there a financial award? 

Rowell: Very little, very little. No financial award connected with that; 
that s entirely an honor, and they made that very, very clear. 
They paid me a thousand dollars, which meant my trip and things, and 
of course they paid all my expenses there, but that s nothing 
really. It was not considered that way; it was considered that 
you did it for the honor, yes. 

Riess: It seems that every time I ve called you you ve just gotten back 
from somewhere or other. 

Rowell: I got back from that just as in fact I was there for my birthday, 
and did they celebrate it ! They celebrated it in every way. The 
first day I was there, even before my talk, Mr. Starker said, "You 


Rowell: can come to my master class Saturday afternoon if you want to," and 
I did. How he ever counted that I would, I don t know, because 
in the middle of his master class they came in with a cake that 
big and that big [gesturing] how many would that feed? It would 
feed one hundred fifty easily with candles all over the darn thing, 
lighted, right in the middle of his master class. So everybody 
celebrated my birthday right then and there. 

That was the day before my award, on Saturday, and my 
birthday, if I remember right, was Sunday. And Sunday they had 
all sorts of things for me. Every night we went to somebody s 
house for dinner: Fritz Magg s and Janos Starker s and Helga 
Winold s. So we were wined and dined, and my birthday was 
celebrated every place, so I didn t miss out on it as I thought I 
was going to do. I didn t know they even knew it, but of course 
that has to go into all your statistics. 

I got back, and right in February I left for Columbus, Ohio, 
to give a master class workshop type of thing, and that one of 
my former students, Lucinda Breed Swatsler had arranged. We like 
to have about twenty cellists as a good number for a master class. 
(At North Carolina we sometimes work it up to thirty.) When she 
phoned she said she had thirty, and then she phoned that she had forty, 
then when she phoned that she had fifty, and finally that she had 
eighty, we almost died, we didn t see how we could ever teach 
eighty cellists. I took Irene Sharp with me. I didn t see how 
we could ever teach eighty cellists at once, and it was very 
difficult I will admit. 

When we got back there the first day was just roasting. The 
place we were in was overheated, so that the first day was just 
awfully hard to teach. But after that they changed the place and 
we had three days of very good teaching there. 

Riess: What is the format for dealing with eighty people in the master 

Rowell: Well, we really did it. They told us that they would be from 

five years to sixty years of age about, and Lucinda, who arranged 
it all, really worked it out very, very well. She had it down 
so that we taught the young ones in front of the older ones so 
that they were getting a lesson in teaching from that. Then we 
had the master classes with the other ones, and then we had 
everybody playing together, so that it really worked out very, very 
well. People came from all over. They came from New York and 
they came from all numbers of places. And she had it, I will have 
to say, very well worked out. 


Riess: And so everybody after that feels that they ve gotten some 
individual attention? 

Rowell: I wouldn t say indiividual because that isn t what it s for. It s 
not a master class, it s a workshop, and there s a great deal of 
difference, so it is the principles of teaching that we re 
trying to get across to them in a workshop. We illustrate the 
very basic principles of teaching as we re teaching the young ones, 
and then allow them all to do it together, and they can just as 
well do it together; if they don t get it all right they understand 
what it s about. It s almost better to teach them in a group 
because they see what the others are doing if they can t do it 

Riess: You certainly are adequately rewarded for that, I should hope. 

Rowell: [laughing] I laugh at it because I just came home from my last one 
and realized if I d stayed at home and taught I would make more 
anytime. But we do enjoy doing it. 

Riess: You two women need a manager. 

Rowell: Oh, we do, everybody tells us that, everybody tells us that. 

New York: Hof f-Barthelson, and Paul Tobias## 

Rowell: We went to Columbus, we had three days there, and then we went on 
to New York. I was very anxious to see Joyce Barthelson, the 
pianist of our old trio. I knew she was getting older (she s a 
year older than I am), and people told me she wasn t well at all 
and that I should get back to see her. She lives in Scarsdale, and 
she is half of the Hoff Barthelson School of Music there. The other 
half is Virginia Hoff Greenberg, who is now active in music circles 
in Camel. I believe she s 87! It is one of the finest schools of 
music anywhere in the vicinity. In fact it s so much larger than 
our conservatory, and just beautifully run, I was simply amazed 
at it. 

I spent really two days there, and heard the music going on 
and couldn t believe it. They have over six hundred students. 
I don t know what we have here at the conservatory. And they have 
excellent teachers. I got in on a trio concert which was excellent, 
Brahms s C Major Trio, and the cellist happened to have been one 
of my former students here. I liked her so much, and she s teaching 
there. So it was the teachers playing a trio, which was just 


Rowell: I was just awfully happy to be there, and to see Joyce, who 

really was much better than I expected to see her. So we had 
breakfast, lunch, and dinner together and so on. 

Riess: Did you do some playing together? 
Rowell : Oh no , oh no . 

She s on her fourth opera. She s had her other three operas 
all given by the New York Opera Guild; they ve produced all of 
them. Carl Fisher and Company have her under contract before she 
finishes them. But she s having a hard time orchestrating this 
last one and getting it down to the right length. It was fine as 
she had it, for doing in high schools, which she would love to 
have it ready for, because she makes them that way. But she had to 
reduce the orchestration, and she s having a hard time cutting 
out things; it s always easier to add than to cut out. But she s 
still working right there on it. 

One of her operas was given at Kennedy Center for the Fourth of 
July bicentennial, 1776-1976. She was happy to have been honored. 

Riess: Did you have a workshop there? 

Rowell: Yes, we gave a very good workshop while we were there. It was 
almost impromptu, and it was one of our great joys. And one of 
the students who came there, and I taught afterwards individually, 
is coming out to the conservatory this next year. Of course he ll 
have Renie for a teacher. I was very surprised because he s 
going to Princeton and came down from Princeton for it and decided 
to come out here for the conservatory after that, which I thought 
was quite surprising. 

Riess: How does Hof f-Barthelson compare to the conservatory? 

Rowell: It doesn t. They are geared to the beginner in piano and in the 
instruments up through high school. Of course the San Francisco 
Conservatory has a wonderful preparatory department, but the 
conservatory as such begins at the college level, and is for the 
very serious professional player, which is quite different. Hoff- 
Barthelson would feed into a conservatory like ours rather than the 
other way around. 

Then we did go down to New York City and give a master class 
there at the New York School for Strings which is just opposite 
Juilliard there in the evening, and we had a wonderful time. I 
had no idea we would have a turnout, but there was a good turnout. 
And they had youngsters from that school to be our "guinea pigs," 
as it were, about I would say maybe eight or ten of them. 


Rowell: I was surprised at the number of people who came. Robert Gardner, 
who s the first cellist of the New York Opera Orchestra, came and 
enjoyed it so much; he was just wonderful afterwards. And Dorothy 
DeLay s sister, who teaches cello at Juilliard, also wrote me 
afterwards, and so on, so that that little experience there was a 
very happy one, because we didn t know what to expect when we 
went down there to a strange crowd at night! In fact there were 
little school kids who came to it, little youngsters in the 
audience. I think it started at almost 8:30, and we went on till 
at least 10:30 that night. 

So that s the way it was in New York, and we had a wonderful 
time there. But I stayed two extra days, which I hadn t expected 
to, but yes I did because my Paul Tobias whom I think I ve 
spoken of enough I never get to see him back there, and to see 
him in his own home was wonderful. I stayed right with Paul and 
Liz in their apartment in New York, and they are a wonderful, very 
happy couple. 

I m so happy with the way he s turning out because he could 
be a what should I say? Well, completely a soloist of the type 
that removes himself from everything. But to see him in his own 
home with his cats, and a parakeet that he gives the whole run of 
the house! It flies from one room, comes and sits on his head for 
breakfast and then sits on the cat s nose for breakfast and it 
picks at the cat, they just enjoy each other! [laughing] And Paul 
is in a wonderful surrounding there. He has a wife who is a fine 
pianist, and they really enjoy living. 

He insisted on taking the days off. He knows my love for 
museums, and so he took me to the Metropolitan. I ve had trouble 
with my legs and I didn t know how I could do there. I was afraid 
of the Metropolitan. So he said, "We ll just get a wheelchair," which 
he did. So I went around that place; we would race around from 
this place to that place. We did the whole Metropolitan that day, 
and the next day we went over to the Cloisters. There I didn t 
have a wheelchair, we climbed all those stories, those stone steps 
from bottom to top and every place. Then we went driving around 
and I just had a wonderful time, feeling that I knew New York much 
better than I d ever known it, because I had never been taken 
around in it before. 

It was lovely, just lovely. It was just absolute relaxation, 
and everything so easy, they take it so naturally. You ask what 
you want for breakfast or anything and you get it. You plan what 
you re going to do and maybe it comes out and maybe it doesn t. So 
it was very lovely. 


Rowell: Since then I might just say he left to be the soloist with the 
Juilliard Orchestra for a South American tour, and he came back 
from it excited. He had played the Haydn D Major and the 
Tchaikovsky Roccoco variations. He evidently did them very 
beautifully and has return engagements in quite a number of places 
in South America for himself. 

From their apartment which they pay very little for because 
she gets it as being a pianist, they look right out on the Hudson. 
They re on Riverside Drive, and there isn t another building to be 
seen from their place except just the trees down by the river and 
that s all. And how they ever have an apartment like that; you 
could think you were anyplace when you look out their windows. So 
I enjoyed it immensely. 

Riess: Do you come in contact with any extremely gifted, surprising 

people when you go and give a workshop? Is it in your mind that 

suddenly out of a crowd of people one person will emerge as a very, 
very special musician? 

Rowell: No, no, I m not even interested in it particularly. However last 
summer, not this summer but the summer before, I did see exactly 
that with a cellist I think she was seven years old! who played 
absolutely completely beautifully in every way. And she, thank 
goodness, wasn t the least bit spoiled, but she could sit down at 
that cello and practically play any thing beautifully and play any 
kind of music you d want. She had a mother, thank goodness, who 
was a trained pianist and a beautiful human being, and the love 
between the two of them was really remarkable. And that small child 
who played the cello, what she played, she played as well as any 
concert artist. I don t know how large her repertoire was, I don t 
care, because it was what she played and the joy and the freedom 
and the beauty of what she played that was just astounding; 
technically or anything the instrument did not bother her in any 
way. Her name is Mir jam Ingohlsson. I asked for her this year 
when I was back at Greensboro, but she wasn t from there, she had 
moved away, and I don t know where she is. I d like to keep track 
of her. 

Riess: You re saying you don t really go into these situations looking 
for that. 

Rowell: Oh no, no. I wish everybody could have music, as they have 

language or as they have something else, to make their life richer, 
and I m just absolutely thrilled when my students I remember one 
that I started just about as he was ready to retire from his 
wonderful job, and his wife made him start the cello, and now he s 




Rowell : 

playing string quartets three times a week. Their whole life, no 
matter whether they go to the Islands, wherever they go, is how 
many quartets they can play. 

They are getting ready for retirement and they thought they 
were going to retire to Carmel. They went down and started playing 
with quartets down there, but now the others are too old for them 
and they re afraid they ll die off and they won t have a quartet. 
They re not going to retire until they find a younger community 
where they can really play quartets at least three or four times a 
week, and that means really serious playing, and they re still 
coaching quartets with Colin Hampton he s the best coach around 
here. So that I love to see, when a person can take it that way. 
I think it should enrich the life. I feel with music as I do with 
literature; you don t just take a course in literature thinking 
that you re going to write the greatest novel or book, you take it 
for your own enrichment. 

Yes, yes, of course, 

For some reason I need to be reminded of 

But everybody does, everybody does. When we were back in Washington 
at the wonderful Rostropovich thing last year the people said, "We 
must not have as many cellists because we haven t a place for them 
in the community, and we haven t the right to educate them and then 
not be able to pay them." But I love it when somebody asks me 
whether he should be a lawyer or a musician because he could be 
either one so easily and my reply would be, "But do both, do both." 

You can carry your music almost as far and your life can be 
very rich if you can have chamber music as your great desire and 
keep up the necessary work on your instrument, which can be done 
in much less time today than it could have twenty years ago because 
we understand how we play. We don t have to develop muscles 
in the fingers because they haven t any muscles in them to begin 
with. The strength comes through the body. Of course it does 
take discipline and training and great musicality and growth ! It s 
the development of the total body-brain that makes music so fascinating. 

Everest From the China Side, Without Oxygen 

Rowell: I was just back from that the last of February, the first of March, 
almost a day or so before Galen left for the Himalayas to climb 
Everest. I was so glad to get back. His trip was delayed a week, 
which evidently was responsible in a large part for them not making 


Rowell: the top after all of their months and months of preparation for 

it, years of preparation for it. But everything went wrong at the 
last minute. Did you know about that at all? 

Riess: A bit. 

Rowell: Well anyway, what happened was that they were all ready to leave, 
and Galen had gone and spent a whole week in New York with the 
photographer who was to go along with them and he had come out 
here and I had met him. They had $200,000 from ABC to take the 
pictures of the whole trip. That was their underwriting from the 
very beginning over two years ago. Just a week to ten days before 
departure, ABC found out that China would not allow their equipment 
to go through at all; they had to withdraw both the $200,000 and the 
cameraman, which just knocked the bottom right out of Galen s 
trip of course. And I don t know yet how they re going to pay for 

But they got their wonderful sixteen men together I never 
met a finer group of men and they all decided to go ahead anyway. 
They had planned the trip on a very small basis and they did it 
that way. I never heard of such a thing: they went without any 
Sherpas, without any porters, without any oxygen, carrying all the 
loads themselves from the very lowest right up to their 26,000-foot 
level, which they reached. 

Riess: On the China side. 

Rowell: On the China side, on the new side, the new approach that hadn t 

been done before. So they were planning on all of these new 

things, one new thing after another. He wasn t just doing the 

same Nepal side which everybody does. Everything was new! 

But the thing that got me was the thing of doing it without 
oxygen, and I do think that that was perhaps . But the oxygen is 
so heavy to carry. If the Sherpas are carrying it, they re used to 
carrying everything and they know so much how to do things in the 
mountains, which sixteen wonderful people here wouldn t necessarily 

They were there for three months , and when you go one solid 
month or more without hearing one word, and you know they re on 
ice and snow the whole time, and you know they re up at the 
25,000-foot level, and you don t hear a word, you begin to wonder 
what s happening. Then when you do hear that they ve got a man just 
ready to make it and he ll probably make it the next day, and then 
flash! people call from New York City, from everyplace under the 
sun and say, "Oh, they ve made it! They ve made it." And it was 


Rowell: another party! It was the party who had started up two weeks later 
than they, and had their $200,000 and had their wonderful 
photographer and excellent trained Sherpas since they started in 
Nepal, not hostile China and were able to do the whole thing. 

Riess: Were they an American party also? 

Rowell: Oh yes, they were an American party and they and Galen are very 

good friends. In fact I believe Galen has the commission to write 
up both trips. He knew about the other trip, and he held nothing 
against them because he liked the photographer so much, and of 
course they could do it. They were going from the Nepal side, 
where the trails are right there. They had all their Sherpas to do 
their climbing and all their carrying. In fact their man who made 
the top and did it so wonderfully, the Sherpas had gone up beforehand 
to do the trail for him, and then helped him up. He made it alone 
at the very last , but it was over a trail that was well marked and 
with oxygen up to the very last and the Sherpa had oxygen the whole 

Riess: Well, nothing amazing about that. 

Rowell: Not particularly, but then it s wonderful to have done it. He did 
do it without oxygen the last stage, but he had been protected up 
there. Galen said the hardest thing was that he should have had 
more people to divide the weights, because the weights were very, 
very heavy when you had to climb right straight up with that heavy 
weight and then do it. It evidently takes so much more energy 
without oxygen. 

Riess: They were on the mountain for three months? 

Rowell: Yes. Galen had planned on a great deal of that because his idea, 

which was a very good idea, was to get them up to those high things 
so that they would be acclimated to the very high, and then bring 
them down, so they wouldn t stay up and get whatever it is you get 
in your lungs. They d come on down and then they d go up again 
until they would get acclimated. So they had a great deal of that. 

But then there was something in the last 2000 feet that with 
their equipment they just couldn t make it, and the monsoon set in. 
So everything went against them at the very last. 

But the thing that I like best of all was that all sixteen 
came back, with their fingers and toes, and all of them were the 
very best of friends after the whole time. I think three months 
for men to be alone on a mountainside with all these difficulties 
usually separate people, but not in this case. 


Riess: Did Galen have a lot to do with choosing that group? 

Rowell: It was entirely his choice. He was the leader and they were his 

Riess: In his books he deals a lot with this question of the composition 
of the group. 

Rowell: I haven t read all his books! 

Riess: Well, it s obviously something he s wanted to do. 

Rowell: Yes, oh yes. And he did have sixteen of the finest people under the 
sun. I think his head man who stayed basically in base camp, Bob 
Craig, was just one of the finest people you could ever imagine. 
I didn t realize he s the one who started Aspen in the old days. 
He still lives in Colorado and has his great big businesses there. 
But he s the one who got Schweitzer over and all of those people 
in the very first days when Aspen was an intellectual institute. 

Bob Craig is really a very broad-minded man in every way. I 
sent Galen some little clippings from Dag Hammarskjold. Bob Craig 
told Galen all about Hammarskjold and his own relationship with 
him and so on. So he s a wonderful man, just a very great man. 
They were all from different professions and they evidently got 
along very well together, which I think is wonderful. So that s 

Riess: That whole three-month period in a way you felt in suspense? 

Rowell: Well no, I didn t really at all at first. The last month I was 

absolutely beside myself, because when I knew that they hadn t made 
the top and had to come out, and I couldn t see why we didn t hear 
from them and why they didn t get down, that I just couldn t 
understand, how we could get no word whatsoever out from them. That 
last month, the third month, was a hard one. So that s really 
hard, very, but we won t go into that now. It s all over and it s 

Galen s very best book is just now out. I told him he d given 
me a new grandchild! The title is Mountains of the Middle Kingdom, 
Exploring the High Peaks of China and Tibet. 


Nick Anderson, and Fine Old Friends Continued 

Rowell: Okay now, that was New York. [refers to papers] Of course I came 
back to do an awful lot of teaching and did it during that time. 
One of my students, Claire Garabedian, got what is the highest 
prize the Cello Club gives, which happens to be the Margaret Rowell 
Award. She has to give a whole concert which Cello Club pays for. 
I m going to have to be working with her for that. She also happens 
to have been, I m very proud to say, one of the people who went to 
prison for her work out at Livermore and spent ten days in prison , 
and is now up in Washington State, so I haven t had a chance to see 
her and get to work with her. 

Then Nick Anderson has given several remarkable concerts 
this spring, one right after the other. 

Riess: Yes, and he s a pupil whom you wanted to give a brief biography of. 

Rowell: Yes. Well, he says that he s studied with me the longest 

continuously of any student, that is he has hardly missed a lesson, 
in ten years, and so on, so that it s been ten consecutive years. 
And I will say that he s gone ahead I think very much this last 
year. He s always giving concerts. He gives concerts in the Old 
First Church in San Francisco at least once or twice a year. And 
I can t remember how many concertos he s done this year with 
orchestra. He s done the Beethoven Triple, the Dvorak and the 
Haydn D Major and the Schumann, and I can t remember what all else. 

Riess: How old was he when he started with you? 

Rowell: I would say seventeen, eighteen, somewhere around there. So 

anyway, he had a good beginning, but I feel the music has progressed 
a great deal. 

Riess: This is interesting to me, that he studied cello, and then he 

studied ten more years with you , and then suddenly in this last 
year he s really moved ahead. Why? 

Rowell: I can t tell you. This is very interesting, a very interesting 

question. One thing that he has done, he videotapes every single 
lesson. He s brought his video machine to every lesson. It takes 
him an age to set up here with his camera and with his recording 
and everything. He s done that for several years. It s hard on me 
when I see him dragging all that stuff in and then do that! [laughing] 
He says it does help him a greal deal, that he studies the lesson 
afterwards and so on. 


Rowell: I think he himself has developed. I think he was very closed in 
and almost self-centered, I would say, in his cello playing. And 
all of a sudden I think he s opened out, and he is very much 
interested, he s arranging loads of concerts, not only himself but 
with different people, for the nuclear freeze movement. He gave 
one last week where he brought a Chicago opera singer you may 
have seen it reviewed in the Chronicle and paid him quite a price 
for coming and giving this concert here in Berkeley, and there 
were probably fifty people there only. But it was a beautiful 
concert, marvelous concert and took much planning and doing. Some 
of his concerts draw quite big crowds. 

He runs all of those things, sends them out, and every time 
you get the notice there s a whole blurb on nuclear freeze, a 
whole, two-page thing usually on it, so he s very much wrapped up 
in that, and has Musicians Against Nuclear Weapons and so on. 
And I think that has opened him out a great deal. 

Riess: Yes, I should think so. 

Rowell: While I was in North Carolina I had, thank goodness, a part of a 
day with a dear friend of mine, Emily Lewis, one of a group of 
three very close friends, who have their birthdays on the same day 
May 19. All lived within a block of each other when I first knew 
them. Through the years they have let me_ give them their birthday 
party. They are a great threesome. Besides Emily Lewis, the others 
are Vernez Olshausen and Madeline Duckies. 

Vernez Olshausen is the mother of six children and I don t 
know how many grandchildren, I can t tell you now. She just had 
a new one last week, and she has more children in Europe than she 
does in this country. But anyway she s been a friend of mine all 
through these years. Whenever I m in any kind of trouble she comes 
over and sits with me and brings her wonderful chicken soup or 
something else. I mean when I m worried about Galen in Pakistan or 
Tibet and I haven t heard, she ll come and stay till midnight. 
She is a remarkable person and a remarkable friend. 

And of course Madeline. I have letters from Madeline from 
Europe. I m going to give some of them back to her because she s 
telling about her times when those kids were all young, her five 
boys. And now they re all married, but one. She has a wonderful 

Emily Lewis was married to Dr. Rubin Lewis, and he came to 
take cello lessons from me. He died several years ago. 



Rowell: She and Dr. Rubin Lewis met in South America where she was a nurse, 
tending to the sick with all the diseases they have down there. 
But she came up here, and since he died she s gone right back to 
teaching, especially Planned Parenthood. She has spent more time 
I would say in many of the different countries, especially Africa, 
with Planned Parenthood than here. She s running over there maybe 
three or four times a year and then comes back. 

I got to see her when I was in North Carolina. She was in Chapel 
Hill and ran over and we had time together once again. Her face just 
beams. I don t know whether she s good looking or not, because 
her face just shines, and she is enjoying life so much. She s 
giving a whole training course there for people going into this 
type of thing in different countries. She s spent time in India, 
she s spent time all over the world with this. And the beauty that 
comes from her is just radiant. So to have her come over when I was 
in North Carolina and visit was just really wonderful. 

Riess: You re so busy, yet you keep in touch by letter? 

Rowell: Oh yes, oh yes. Not long letters or anything, probably a postcard 
to her I ll be sending off, but that s all. With Madeline, I have 
Madeline s three- and four- and five- and six-page letters when 
they would be in Europe, and those are worth saving, really 

But all of those three people are so interested in the nuclear 
freeze and the fate of this world. You know how much Madeline 
Duckies is I m sure, and Vernez Olshausen just as much so. She 
plays in the Oakland Symphony and is remarkable. I don t know how 
she does as much as she does. She is a beautiful poet and she has 
brought each of her children to love literature at its best. 

1983 Pomona Cello Institute, Berkeley Visitors, and Bellingham 

Rowell: Well, now did I tell about going to Pomona at all yet? Maybe I 
better go ahead with that now then. 

Riess: That s an amazing piece of paper, you keep turning it over and 
getting new items off it. [laughter] 


Rowell: After I got back from North Carolina I only had a couple of days 
at home, and then went to Pomona College for the National Cello 
Institute; it s down there for a week. And thank goodness it was 
not hot weather. I can t stand hot weather. The whole week was 
just made with my kind of weather, so I enjoyed every minute, 
enjoyed teaching. I teach the teachers basically who come and of 
course some of the high school students who are advanced. I love 
them, love to go there. 

But after that. One of my former students, Joanne Grant, who 
had taken from me at the conservatory and lives in Canada, had 
written me a long time ago saying that she and her husband were 
coming down to the Pomona National Cello Institute, and she wanted 
to come back for a week and take lessons from me with her pianist. 
(Her husband was coming too, Stewart Grant. He is a fine composer 
and conductor.) 

Well, I haven t at this stage of the game even a bed or cot in 
this house for company to stay. The upstairs belongs to my Frank 
Vigna, who is so wonderful to me in every way. So here they were. 
I couldn t ask them to go down and get a hotel in Berkeley. They 
had their tent with them, so they set their tent up on my front lawn 
and lived out of it the whole week they were here! The bathroom got 
plenty of extra use. When they took their tent down, I was simply 
horrified! Here was this great big brown diamond on my lawn, and 
it took it weeks and weeks to even begin to get over it. Isn t 
that funny? I just couldn t believe that it would do that in one 
week s time. 

But it was a great pleasure to have them, and I did coach 
her every day on the big works that she was working on and on 
teaching and so on and so forth. They were a lovely, lovely couple. 
They had been married just a year. As I say he s the conductor 
of their orchestra up there, and a composer and so on, and she s 
the cellist, doing lots of work, has loads of students of all ages, 
so they were a wonderful pair. 

Riess: They had all their meals with you and everything? 

Rowell: Well, most of the meals here, but they were running around to 

San Francisco and doing other things too. But I did get worn out, 
I will say that , I got very worn out because I was already tired 
from the Pomona thing. And I haven t gotten over it yet, I am tired 
most of the time now, which is an unusual thing for me. I m tired 
when I wake up in the morning, which I m not used to at all. Anyway, 
I enjoyed it very, very much. 


Rowell: But they left one day and the next day came Lucinda Breed Swatsler. 
She s the one who had us back at Columbus, Ohio. She and her 
husband, who is going to art school, came out and stayed the week. 
Now they did not stay with me. They commuted back and forth from 
Palo Alto where her mother lives. She is just lovely. She has 
gone ahead with her cello so much that I m very, very happy for 
her. She always was a good cellist. I had her even when I was 
teaching at Stanford, and she comes out every year, but never 
for as long a period as this. So we had a long week together going 
over most of her literature with her and doing all sorts of things. 

Riess: You ve been doing a lot of intense sessions. 

Rowell: Those two weeks were very, very intense. I had little time to see 
my friends or my own students and see how they were doing after 
my long absence. 

Right in the midst of that two of my old, old students that I 
had taught I can t tell you how many years ago came together. I d 
forgotten they knew each other even. One was Nancy Rich, who lives 
in Boston, Massachusetts, and is still playing her cello. She had 
gone on with it a great deal. I taught her in high school I would 
say basically. She came up from Los Altos for her lessons, and 
played very, very well. Then she went to one of the colleges, I ve 
forgotten where she went. She s turned out not to be a professional 
cellist, but she s in some sort of social work back in Boston, and 
loves her cello but also climbs a great deal in the Himalayas and 
Nepal and is always sending me cards from there and keeps up with 
everything that Galen s doing of course. 

With her came Peggy Waite Thow. Now Peggy took from me and 
was very, very talented. They knew each other as girls. I did 
teach at Stanford during those years and I gave them their lessons, 
even though they were in high school, down there. Peggy was very 
talented, and she married very young. She went on writing as well 
as playing the cello. They moved to Italy, and I would get cards 
from her from many different places. Little did I know that she 
would come back to Berkeley to settle. Her husband is a professor 
at UC in the music department in composition. And she has a one- 
year-old baby that they bring up every once in a while to show me. 
They re just delightful. 

Those two met here, came up on the same Sunday afternoon when 
I had the other people here, and we had quite a time, when Joanne 
was here and all of those. So that happened. 

Then I ve just come back from Bellingham, Washington. And that s 
my last escapade. In fact I haven t been down to buy a quart of milk 
yet or butter or anything like that. I ll get down today sometime. 


Riess: Maybe you can raid Frank s refrigerator. 
Rowell: Oh no. But I get by very easily. 

This was really a lovely experience because Renie Sharp and 
Terry Sharp, her husband, insisted that we were going to drive 
up. How much have I mentioned about Gerard Leclerc? Very little. 

Well, Jerry Leclerc is here right now. He has come from where 
he is the solo cellist of a chamber orchestra in Geneva, Switzerland. 
He got here the middle of July I guess, and gave his concert at 
the Piano Club on the 29th of July, which was just the day before 
we started for Bellingham. He gave a very fine concert, it was 

And I said, "I can t possibly get ready to leave the next 
morning," and Renie said, "Well, you have to, there s no doubt about 
it ! " I was going to have one day to pack and get ready after the 
concert. (I might just say in passing, I made three recipes of 
brownies all in one great big pan and they all burned. But my 
Lucinda Breed was here and came to the rescue and did everything for 
me that night for the punch. I served all sorts of refreshments 
and did everything under the sun.) 

Surely enough, Renie and Terry were here at half past nine the 
next morning, and we started off. I thought it was just bedlam, 
and I was no more ready, but now I can see why they did it. We 
started up the coast, and we really went up the coast of California, 
and saw the beaches. I had never seen all of them, northern California, 
and through the redwoods, miles and miles and miles of redwoods. 
Then the Oregon coast was the thing that got me. You have seen 
the Oregon coast? 

Riess: Yes, I have. They did that because they knew how much you would 
adore that, yes. 

Rowell: Well, that Oregon coast just got to me. Those redwoods and ferns 
and then the beaches. Terry always saw that we stayed at very 
nice places and he had his guidebooks there and everything went 
just according to Hoyle. We stopped at one little place where our 
room looked right straight out on the ocean. So I snuck out before 
breakfast the next morning and went wading in the Pacific and 
wiggling my toes, which I love to do. 

Then we went on driving all that day through wonderful 
country and spent that night on Mt. Rainier, which suited me to 
a T. I had been there years ago, but a very, very short time. 
This time, of course there s still snow right at the hotel at 


Rowell: Paradise, there s plenty of snow, but the avalanche lilies are 
coming up through and the Indian paintbrush and other things. 
So we took little walks around and really enjoyed it tremendously. 
And then drove all the way around the mountain and back to Portland 
and Seattle and then on up to Bellingham. It was just a delightful 
trip, the whole way was just wonderful, just beautiful. So it 
was really a wonderful holiday for me. 

Then we gave the classes there in Bellingham at the University 
of Western Washington for about four days I guess. I flew back, 
I left Renie there, she isn t back yet, because I was only their 
guest artist and she s on the faculty. Janos Starker is coming 

What they did for me, because I was the guest artist was, they 
gave me a room overlooking the whole bay and everything and it s 
on two floors with a winding staircase that goes up and a spread 
of a place to work on that would be as wide as this room, and all 
the comfortable chairs under the sun, refrigerator and a stove 
of course, and everything that anybody could want. Comfortable 
chairs and of course on the upper floor the bath and the beds, and 
this lower floor, the whole place to work on and everything at the 
same time. Irene and Terry both had to be in the dormitory with 
all the students and the bathroom is on the next floor up, and 
those were those little crowded rooms with two cots! 

The last morning , when I was leaving , the front door was not 
open when I got back from breakfast. I went to every other door 
in the huge building with my room key, but nothing fit it anyplace. 
It was Saturday. I finally had to call to the campus police and 
they came and let me in. I said, "Am I really the only one in this 
building?" And they said, "Yes, I guess you are!" [laughter] So 
I was living in grandeur such as I have never had, while Renie 
and Terry were cooped up in something. 

I was there just as a guest artist and I had to give one 
lecture for the whole group of violinists, violas, cellos, and 
bass, and so on. I was of course always worried, as I always am, 
Renie had to see me through that! And it came off very, very well. 
So I was happy about that. That was much better than Bloomington! 

Then what I did was to fly home, and of course from Bellingham 
you fly in a little tiny plane , as I knew from having been there 
twice before. This I loved. Talk about your islands! This is 
what is so beautiful. The combination of going up by car and coming 
back this way was wonderful. 


Rowell: One of my very dear friends from Alaska was just arriving as I 

was leaving, and she got off the plane and I talked to her so long 
that most of the seats were taken. I said to the pilot, "Oh, I 
wanted one of the best seats." He said, "Do you want the co-pilot s 
seat?" I said, "I surely do." So there I sat right up at the 
front with him, you know, with the front coming right down here. 
He said, "Put your feet on the pedals," so I did. 

Riess: Amazing! 

Rowell: And off we went. 

Riess: How small a plane is this? 

Rowell: It seats eight. Little wings, you know, so you d just be right 
out over everything, and those islands are just beneath you 
everyplace. It s just wonderful. Well, one time when I flew up 
there before I had to crawl on a wing to get in, a little two-seater, 
so they usually have very small little planes there, but this was 
quite a decent plane. 

It flew me to Seattle and then I took the plane home. So 
here I am. And as I say, I m just here and that s all! 

Riess: I m glad you ve done all those things because I know they all fit 
into your life, those are the things you love to do. 

Rowell: Well, now there are those beautiful flowers Jerry just brought me. 
I immediately gave Jerry Leclerc a lesson yesterday, with his 
pianist who s come from Switzerland. To give these two concerts, 
he brought his pianist from Switzerland, a beautiful pianist, but 
he had to bring her husband and two children to do that ! So 
they re all staying over in Marin County, and they came yesterday 
for a coaching and brought me all these flowers. They are lovely 
people. So there is my life up to the present time I guess. 

Riess: It s very intense. 

Rowell: Yes, I don t get any time really to myself and I need it! 

Family Traits: Margaret and Galen 

Riess: Well, that catches you up. 


Rowell: I ll think of all the things that I wished I d said. I wish 

I could put in more about my Galen because I really am fascinated 
with the way he has developed in his lifetime. I would love to 
put in quite a bit about him. 

Riess: Did he come back from that trip already planning the next one? 

Rowell: No, he didn t, and he hasn t mentioned it yet. But he has so 

many things in the offing. Right now the thing that is happening 
is that November 17 in New York is his opening of the International 
Center of Photography in New York. National Geographic Society 
is back of it. It will be a three-month s thing. It will open 
November 17 and be there through February, and then probably travel 
all over the United States to the different museums after that. 

There are three photographers that Geographic has chosen and 
he s one of the three. He s very, of course, happy over that. He 
says that I have to go back for the opening. And the two people 
who are heading the things there are Robert Redford and George 
Schaller, the writer. (He s the one who was with Peter Matthiessen 
on the Snow Leopard . ) George Schaller is a very dear friend of 
Galen s. So the two of them are heading the list of people for 
the opening night. 

Riess: Only a day or two after Galen was back from the trip, he was down 
on Solano Avenue for a reception. 

Rowell: Oh, one day after. 

Riess: I was dumbstruck at that ability, which you have also, to come 
back and carry on! 

Rowell: I was so afraid he wasn t going to get back for that; he was in 

New York just before that, he d just arrived the night before. But 
he got there for it. 

Riess: What I m seeing is that parallel to you in him. 

Rowell: Oh, we are so much alike that it s almost pathetic! We really 

know it. The funny thing is we drive exactly alike. I was with 
somebody yesterday, Nick Anderson. I always want to say, "Well 
now, you know, you could move into there or something else." He 
says, "I know that" and keeps driving without changing. But with 
Galen I don t do a thing because we drive exactly alike. If we 
drive across the bridge he would change a lane exactly when I would, 
not before, not after. And we were never together with our driving 
for a minute, but everything that we do . They tell us that our 


Rowell: hands are exactly alike. We measured them. Look at that hand, 
it s the biggest, funniest hand you ever saw, and I was almost 
ashamed of it. But it is exactly Galen s hand! So many things 
are alike. 

I do think we re very much alike in that inner thing that 
we have too much energy for our own good and we spend it and 
don t really have as much energy as we seem to have. I mean to 
say I m tired right now, and I ll go right 

straight through the day. I ve been tired for three weeks, but I 
go right through, and everybody says, "Oh no, you aren t tired." 
But I am, I really am. 

Riess: Well, what I was thinking about Galen and also about you is that 
you go from one peak experience to another without what to normal 
people would seem like a kind of time when you integrate all 
of this stuff. 

Rowell: Yes, we don t get time enough to integrate, we really don t, either 
of us, I can see that, I can see that. He s lucky that he does 
have his wife because she really does help him a great deal in 
organizing it and doing things. She s really excellent. I ought 
to have somebody like that! I d give anything to. Yes, and they re 
doing very well. 

But I m looking forward to that show in New York now. 
Riess: You re going to go? 

Rowell: Oh, he says I just have to be there for opening night. I don t 
know whether I can stand on my feet or what I can do, but we ll 

But I do think his pictures are lovely. They really amaze me. 
His latest book, he just turned the pages for me and I haven t 
read it. I know I ll enjoy reading this because it s taking 
Marco Polo on his trip and Galen going over exactly the same land. 
I really love the pictures because I do think that he has a way 
of seeing them. And I laugh for that. I don t know whether I 
mentioned that, I really do laugh. I just came across my picture 
that I d gotten from the museum when I was back there of El Greco s 
"View of Toledo" and I always had this card of it about this 
big. But have I told you about picking out a picture with Galen? 
I haven t? 

When Galen was, I don t know, five or six, I wanted a picture 
for his sun room where he always played. And I took him down to 
what was then Cal Bookstore where they had I would say fifty or 


Rowell: sixty great pictures in one of those boxes to look through. We 
looked and looked through them, and he stopped at the "View of 
Toledo," and there was nothing else but that. I liked it too 
of course. 

We came back home, and I took Ed down to see it. Ed said, 
"Oh no. Unh-uh." I didn t realize that Ed s eyes were not good 
at that time even then. It was too dark for him, it had clouds 
and everything in it, and he didn t want it. He said no. So I 
took Galen down again. We went all through the box again. Nothing 
but that, he wouldn t accept anything else. I took him down a 
third time, and finally I thought, "Well, if this is it, it s it." 
It was for Galen s room not Ed s. So we got it and it s still there. 

Galen and I have this between us every once in a while because 
I have always thought that his pictures were too dark. His 
pictures are all very dark. And if he goes for anything it s for 
clouds. And every once in a while he ll slip to me, "Well, those 
are El Greco clouds, aren t they?" I know what he means. So that 
I know that that one picture meant much to him. 

Another time Ed and I and Galen, when he was very young, went 
over to a whole exhibit of Rembrandts at the de Young. And of 
course Ed I can see with me as I am now got tired very soon. I 
had been there before so we went through rather quickly and sat down 
and Galen was nowhere to be found. I went back after him. I 
could get back in, thank goodness, and there he was in front of 
Rembrandt s "Man with a Golden Helmet," and he was just absolutely 
there, just absolutely there. I couldn t pull him away. 

When we got home I think he was about in the sixth grade, he 
would have been about twelve then, wouldn t he? he went down to the 
library by himself and got out a book on Rembrandt and read it , 
which is very different from the kid he was, you know, because he 
was always playing so hard. I never thought anything about it, but 
that picture also has the very light spots and the dark spots, and 
I can see those in his pictures now so clearly. Almost too clearly. 

Two Last Thoughts* 

Riess: Margaret, harking back to our earlier talk about the Depression 
days, what worthy causes do you play your cello for, or did you? 

*[ recorded October 24, 1983] 


Rowell: Oh, don t ask me to name them, because I have a good memory, but ! 
No, no. I just don t know, because I never wanted to be paid for 
playing, and I m still that way really, I think. Some of my 
friends when they play with me have a terrible time, because I 
either send back the money or I just did it to somebody the other 
day. I don t want to accept it if I think they can use it better 
than I can. So to see people give it when they haven t got enough 
for themselves I don t know, I ve always been interested and 
fascinated by the underdog. All my sympathy and everything, 
whether it s for good or bad, I always go out for the underdog. I 
can t help it. The other people seem to get along without needing 
my help, but the underdog needs something. He needs some reassurance 
and how is he going to get it? I don t know. 

I was so shy and so I never . I came across something the 
other day that said , "I know I will never amount to anything or 
do anything, but this makes no difference. The world needs those 
little gnarled trees that are this way and that way and not straight 
and tall." [laughs] 

Riess: This is something you had written yourself? 

Rowell: Oh yes. I have it someplace. 

Riess: Have you been keeping a journal every year? 

Rowell: Just my datebook. Not a journal. I never write anything in it. 
It s just a datebook of where I was and what I ve done for that 
day. Clear way back. Last night I was listening to this program 
on Raoul Wallenberg , and I ran to get the datebook of the exact 
year and date he was talking about, to see what I was doing. I 
thought I was making such a fool out of myself here at that time, 
and I was . There he was trying to free a hundred thousand Jewish 
people, and here I was doing this and that. 

I followed every day as he went along on the story last night; 
I turned my pages to July 27, 1940, and I was able to follow right 
along. My activities were of no avail at all! I was teaching, I 
was doing this, I was doing that, going to concerts, and there he 
was doing that. I felt so worthless ! 


Rowell : There is something else I ve made a note to say: I don t know 

whether I got it in, it s just a little tiny thing, but did I tell 
you the thing I remember about that [1916] Yosemite trip more than 
anything else? We drove through that dust all day and most of 
the night to get home from Yosemite, and we got home at midnight, 
and the first thing I could not wait to get inside that door, I 
could not wait! I remember the feeling in my stomach, of all 
places. I made one dive to get in and get under the piano and get 
my cello out. At midnight! I simply had to get my cello out. 

I didn t know how lonesome I was for it I d only had cello 
at most a couple of years then, hardly that and I just thought I 
would die if I didn t. The rest of the family went up to bed 
and I just simply got that cover off my cello as fast as I could 
and sat down to it. 

Riess: Can you remember whether the noises you made were pleasing to you 

Rowell: Oh yes. That was one thing, evidently from the very beginning. 

To me I m shocked that they put me ahead as fast as they did. You 
see, I took the cello up very late, but the first time I drew a 
bow across the string I just thought, "This is gorgeous. This is 
what I ve always wanted." I related it to the Schumann-Heink 

I never was asked to practice in my life. I wouldn t know 
what it was like. That tone was what I evidently got from the 
beginning, and didn t know I had it, because it just absolutely 
was there. But in six months I was in the orchestra, and by the 
end of the year I was the first cellist out of about seven cellists. 

I m sure it was that quality of tone, which I never counted on 
at all. After Joyce Barthelson went back to New York, when she would 
come out she would bring somebody and come up to this very living 
room. And long after I d stopped playing [in performance], she 
would say, "Margaret, you have to play for them. I want them to 
hear that quality." [laughs] She would make me get it, and I 
would say, "Oh, I can t do it!" 

I ran across a newspaper account of my playing, I think it 
was at the Women s City Club, that called attention to that. I was 
unaware of it. Of course, you are. Just as my croaking voice 
[laughs]. I mean, if you have a good voice for people to listen 
to, you don t know it. Unless you ve cultivated it. 

Renie too is marvelous at this. I heard one of her students 
this week. I ve never heard a more beautiful cello concert. When 
I came out of it, I said, "If that had been Rostropovich playing 
tonight, I would have said he was at his very, very best." A 


Rowell: sixteen-year-old playing a complete concert of the most difficult 
music, and so beautiful that I couldn t believe it. Such gorgeous 
quality. So we believe that from the very start they can get a 
good tone. 

Transcriber: Nicole Bouche 
Final Typist: Keiko Sugimoto 


TAPE GUIDE Margaret Avery Rowell 

Interview 1: September 15, 1982 
tape 1, side A 
tape 1, side B 
tape 2, side A 
tape 2, side B 

Interview 2: September 21, 1982 
tape 3, side A 
tape 3, side B 
tape 4, side A 
insert from tapes 8 and 9 
resume tape 4, side B 

Interview 3: September 27, 1982 

tape 5, 
tape 5, 
tape 6, 
tape 6. 

side A 
side B 
side A 
side B 

tape 7, side A [side B not recorded] 

Interview 4: October 4, 1982 
tape 8, side A 
tape 8, side B 
tape 9, side A 
tape 9, side B 

Interview 5: October 11, 1982 

tape 10, side A 

tape 10, side B 

tape 11, side A 

tape 11, side B 

tape 12, side A 

Interview 6: October 18, 1982 
tape 12, side B 
tape 13, side A 
tape 13, side B 

Interview 7: 
tape 14, 
tape 14, 

October 25, 1982 
side A 
side B 

tape 15, side A 
tape 15, side B 











Interview 8: November 1, 1982 256 

tape 16, side A 256 

tape 16, side B 264 

tape 17, side A 281 

Interview 9: August 12, 1983 291 

tape 18, side A 291 

tape 18, side B 296 

tape 19, side A 306 


APPENDICES Margaret Avery Rowell 

A. Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarians, by Margaret Rowell 321 

B. Feature articles about Margaret Rowell: 

1. Robert Commanday, San Francisco Chronicle, December 14, 1976 323 

2. Paul Hertelendy, Oakland Tribune, September 14, 1976 324 

3. Miv Schaaf 325 

C. California Cello Club, by Margaret Rowell 326 

D. Partial list of students of Margaret Rowell 327 

E. "Piatigorsky Opens Season for Berkeley Community Concerts," by 
Margaret Rowell, Berkeley 328 

F. "The Element of Play," Margaret Rowell s teaching, by Claude 
Kenneson, from Notes, newsletter of the Canadian String Teachers 
Association, Winter, 1978 329 

G. "She Also Cooks," Oakland Tribune, Sunday, October 9, 1960 333 

H. "A Birthday Tribute to a Master Teacher," San Francisco Chronicle, 
December 8, 1980 334 


Unitarian Fellowship 

Our Unitarian group was a group of couples who broke away from the First 
Unitarian Church to form the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarians. I did not 
pay attention to the reasons. I was and still am very fond of Raymond Cope, 
who was the minister at that time. As far as I can understand, the disagree 
ment was over the Sunday School. It was not a really negative attitude, 
because we all ran back to the First Church for many of their occasions. Now 
the Fellowship group is composed so completely of young people with their own 
minister that the "old couples" who broke away merely get together at someone s 
home once a month and have their own discussion, with one couple in charge. 
It has a very warm feeling. I try not to miss it. 

Elizabeth Lewis helped me put together a list of the members of the old 
group, as of July 1983: 

Scott Anderson, lawyer 

Lauriel Anderson, teacher, artist 

Harriet Blades, writer 

Alfred Compton, M.D., retired from Kaiser (pediatrics) 

Kathleen Compton, docent, Oakland museum 

Robert Cockrell, retired professor, Forestry Department, UCB 

Zylpha Cockrell, pianist 

Klaus Dehlinger, M.D., head radiologist, Herrick Hospital 

Jean Dehlinger, M.D., volunteer community worker 

Kay Dols, retired administrator, Early Childhood program, Berkeley 

Don Foley, retired professor, City Planning, UCB 

Katherine Foley, artist and photographer 

James Harder, professor, Hydraulic Engineering, UCB 

Marie Harder, former college professor of psychology 

Dorothy Jones, former secretary, now volunteer community worker 

Max Knight, retired editor, translator, writer, teacher, "has written many 
books on Switzerland and other topics" 

Charlotte Knight, retired special education teacher 

R. Lynox Lewis, retired career counselor for Richmond Unified School District 

Betty Lewis, retired group worker and special education teacher 

Sedgwick Mead, M.D., retired head administrative physician at Kaiser Rehabili 
tation Hospital, Vallejo 

Marjorie Mead, retired nurse 

Harriet McCreary, retired teacher 

Patricia Pope, retired social worker 

Bea Reed, retired teacher of psychiatric nursing 

Marvin Rosenberg, retired professor of dramatic arts, UCB 

Mary Rosenberg, retired professor, Birmingham University, England 

Willard Rosenquist, retired, Design Department, UCB, "remarkable work in 
inlaid enamel, etc." 

Anna Lou Rosenquist, musician, "pianist, active in all peace movements, 
organizer of monthly Sunday morning group" 


Margaret Rowell, musician and professor, Stanford, UC music departments, 
"wife of deceased Professor Edward Rowell, who served on Unitarian 
Seminary Board for years" 

Barry Seelye, M.D., retired surgeon 

Mary Seelye, retired teacher 

Augusta Trumpler, retired teacher, "widow, chief astronomer of Lick Observa 
tory, and head of Unitarian movement; a strong force in her devotion to 
the education of the young people" 

Gordon Tyndall, semi-retired professor, business administration, UCB 

Margo Tyndall, minister and social worker, "organizer of our monthly Sunday 
morning group" 

Harold Weaver, professor of astronomy, UCB, "in charge of Lick Observatory; 
international president of astronomers" 

Cecile Trumpler Weaver, social worker, "in charge of the Sunday School" 

Frank West, retired chemist, Shell Oil 

Marion West, volunteer community worker 

Kent Zimmerman, M.D., retired psychiatrist, Children s Hospital, Oakland 

Kay Zimmerman, retired school counselor 

comments in quotation marks were added by 
Margaret Rowell 




- ~ 

San Francisco Chronicle, This World, Dec. 14, : 

A Person as a Vehicle 
In CSffiieclion With Music 

SUN DEC 1 4*8? 

. T HE foundation of musi- 
-* cal life is made up of 
myriad teachers- among 
wjiom stands a key pillar, a 

. Last Thursday-, was the 
75th birthday of one who 
has that rare distinction. 
^Margaret XRoweiJ. ***^er 
name yiS}*at*^c~m4^^ 
known to the public for she 
has not been a solo per- 
former for many years, and 
her own modesty is exem 
plary. Her work, however, 
though not publicly identi 
fied as hers, is widely felt 
here, and far afield, 
through countless Rowell 
inspired cellists. - 

Margaret Rowell s influ 
ence is manifest in what is~ 
possibly the most active, 
largest association of cell 
ists in the world, the 
Berkeley Cello Club. 
Formed by Colin Hampton 
years ago, and meeting for 
many years at Mrs. Row- 
ell s home, it has always 
been connected with her. 

The Berkeley Cello Club 
now reaches some 400 cell 
ists. It commissions cello 
pieces and offers scholar 
ships. As many as 100 
cellists, teachers and stu 
dents, attend monthly recit 
al meetings. It is a profes 
sional fellowship and shar 
ing almost unique to play 
ers of that instrument "* 

By Rohrrt Commumlfy 

Practically, every major 
cellist who has come to 
town including Casals, 
Rostropovich, Rose, Star 
ker, NetsSva has visited 
Mrs. Roweil s home in the 
Berkeley bills and .meets 
with members. Two rnomhs 
ago, the master classes 
given by Rostropovicteto a 
capacity audience ircsUCs 
Hertz Hall, came about 
because Mrs. Rowell wrote , 
him last year and instigat 
ed it j? 

The club gave a dinner 
in his honor, and 100 young 
cellists on the Hertz * Hall 
stage, performed for- him, 
Denis De Coteau conduct 
ing- l- _ 
* -"* - * , 

T RECALL the effect of 
-* Rostropovich $ first and 
informal visit to Mrs. Row- 
ell s home several years 
ago, and his excitement in 
meeting and talking jwitb 
the students and teachers. 
Exactly the same electric 
sense of discovery is 
sparked .by Mrs. Rowell 
whenever she teaches, 
which is most of the time 
(at home, at the San 
Francisco Conservatory: 
and in workshops and clin 
ics here and abroad); 

I remember one very 
young cellist after a lesson 
which had run over to four 
hours, leaving her house 

with a light in his eyes, 
murmuring, "She s wonder 
ful!" and going home to 
practice for two hours 

BONNIE Hampton who 
personifies the effect of 
Margaret Roweil s teaching 
and is now her teaching 
colleague at the Conserva 
tory, described it this way: 
"Anyone who has experi 
enced Margaret is no long 
er the same person one was 
before. It s something that 
happens rarely, as with a 
great performance, but it 
happens to anyone who 
comes within her orbit. 

"She opens people up, al 
lows them to grow and to 
find what is best in them 
selves," she continued. 
"With her fantastic creative 
energy, it is an Integration 
with: a philosophy of life. 
Through the development 
of her cello ideas, her 
whole philosophy became 
that of finding the most 
natural .and freest energies, 
freeing the body so that the 
music will flow out the 
person as a vehicle in 
connection with music, the 
cello as a vehicle to the 
music, to the larger thing. 

"When I first was work 
ing with her, at age 8, 1 had 

played the piano, but 
made the difference in 
having fun and my la 
finding that dedication ; 
love for it 

"In my developmen 
years with her, there v 
never a particular quest 
of making reMo my pro| 
sion. It wasrmore a way 
life, not what you are go 
to do with it. She has ha 
lot of students who havi 
necessarily gone into mi 
professionally, but the c 
has become their life. 1 
includes many other pro 
sionals, doctors, lawy 
scientists.. 1 

"Now, ^Margaret is ill 
centratina on getting befj 
teaching-:, ideas across!] 
other teachers, the pn: 
pies of freedom of moil 
and physical opennessu 
playing, which are so t\ 

"She gives so much tij 
of us, and that s where 
gets her life energy, 
a mazing -life force, f 
that giving." Miss Ham 
quoted Casals from a 
cent book on the last 
of his life. " 1 don t bei 
in retirement for anyoi 
my line pf work ." . 
ever. Each day I am re 
and each day I must b 
again. So it is for Marj 
. Rowell with her conr 
rebirth and rediscover* 
life." "? 

IT ISi; from such 
inspiring musician- 1 
great recreation of it- 
is initiated. There ai 
music little separate w 
which surround each. 
forming; medium an< 
strument, a world of u 
ists, of" harpsichord!: 
violinists; flutists, c 
and so on. But the i 
pies of teaching emc- 
in the work of any 
great teacher is the 
for all. 









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California Cello Club 

When Colin Hampton, cellist, came to Berkeley from England with the 
Griller String Quartet, he told us of the cello club that his teacher had 
formed in England, and we, with other teachers, got together and in 1954 
formed the California Cello Club with headquarters in Berkeley. The main 
purpose is to bring together a "family of cellos," the teachers playing 
with their students, playing ensemble music, hearing solos, concertos in 
preparation for performances, and in every way widening the enjoyment in 
cello playing for every member. I feel the Cello Club has been my chief 
contribution to the music world. My own students gave a yearly concert of 
massed cellos, as well as trios and solos, starting in 1939, to the present. 

Visiting artists were always delighted to meet with us, play for us, 
tell us how they teach, and enrich our knowledge and love of the instrument. 
Pablo Casals was our past patron, and Mstislav Rostropovich is our present 
patron. Cellists who were entertained by the Cello Club [in the Rowell 
home] include: 

Glaus Adams 
Juliette Alvin 
Orlando Cole 
Marian Davies 
Jules Eskin 
Pierre Fournier 
Adolph Frezin 
Bernard Greenhouse 
Eva Heinitz 
Antonio Janigro 
Claude Kenneson 
Fritz Magg 
Gabriel Magyar 
Andre Navarra 
Zara Nelsova 
Leslie Parna s 
Gregor Piatigorsky 
Gabor Rejto 
Leonard Rose 
Mstislav Rostropovich 
Janos Scholz 
Luigi Silva 
Janos Starker 
Marcus Stocker 
Paul Tortelier 
Laszlo Varga 
Phyllis Young 
Rama Yucker 


Cellists who have studied with Margaret Rowell 

Cathy Allen 
Amy Anderson 
Nicholas Anderson 
Tim Bach 
Mufreda Bell 
Jean Brady 
Kelly Brown 
Chris Campbell 
Joel Cohen 
David Commanday 
Ellen Dessler 
Shana Downes 
Lee Duckies 
Dawn Foster 
Mannfried Funk 
Joan Garvin 
Martha Giese 
Paul Hale 
Bonnie Hampton 
Einar Jeffrey Holm 
Jennifer Howard 
Tim Imlay 
Matthew Irving 
Heidi Jacob 
Kathleen Johnson 
Sally Kell 
Scott Kluksdahl 
Joshua Koestenbaum 
Neal La Monaco 
Gerard Leclerc 

Jim Lee 

Phyllis Luckman 

Paul Margen 
Leslie Meeks 

Paul Melvin 

Jill Meridith 

Kathy Mertz 

Carol Morrow 

Ken Pinckney 

Amy Radner 

Sherrill Noe Roberts 

Mildred Rosner 

Rebecca Rust 

Milton Saier 

Burke Schuckman 

Irene Sharp 

Peter Shelton 

Lucinda Breed Swatsler 

Rosslyn Thorpe 

Paul Tobias 

Wendy Tomlinson 

Emanuel Vacakis 

Wanda Warkentin 



BERKELEY DAILY GAZETTE . . . Wednesday Evening, October 10, 1951 

Musical and "Dramatic Events 

Piatigorsky Opens Season for 
Berkeley Community Concerts 


If the rest of the concerts in the Berkeley Community Concert series 

come up to the level of the Piatigorsky cello concert Monday evening 
! in Berkeley Community Theater, then Berkeley is beginning to achieve 
; its own musical maturity. 

No longer will Berkeleyans have to dash to their cultural mother 
; in San Francisco for solid musical diet worthy of adults. In fact, 

Gregor Piatigorsky paid a compli- ~~ ^~~~ ~ ^ 

ment to his Berkeley audience by ; 

giving a more sophisticated pro 
gram here than at his last appear- j 
ance in the San Francisco Opera > 

House. And Berkeley liked it! j 
Many expressed themselves as 

liking his opening Haydn and 

Brahms the best on his program 

(even though both cello and piano 

were seated too far back for best 

accoustical advantage). The hush 
; between the movements was as it 

should be the hush of the spell- 
| bound, expectant, not wanting to 

break the continuity. This was a 
, tribute to the artist and, inciden- 
i tally, gave a clue to one of the many | 
1 facts of his artistry. That clue was 

,his ability to hold weld a musi 
cal composition together, which, in 
less competent hands often falls 

This was dramatically true of 
the Brahms Sonata, Opus 99, in F 
major. Here Piatigorsky and Ralph 
Berkowitz, pianist, took one of the 
more mature of Brahms works and 
made it alive and fresh from begin 
ning to end. The opening phrase, 
with its terrifically wide range and 
spaced rests (which has even been 
termed bad writing on Brahms 
part) emerged as a brilliant whole. 
The slow movement (Adagio Affet- 
tuoso) was in sustained style true 
to Brahms, yet with the freshness 
and directness of youth. It was 
some of the best playing this writer 
has ever heard from Piatigorsky. It 
was as if he had found new youth 
I in bringing the years of his own 
j maturity to a late work of Brahms. 

The opening Haydn Divertimento 
\ which Piatigorsky himself -ar 
ranged was clean and direct and 
was so deftly handled that it 
seemed as if it grew out of the in 
strument. It was as if one forgot 
cello, piano, performer and listened 
only to clear Haydn. Yet this, para 
doxically, became the perfect intro 
duction to both cello and per 

The Debussy Sonata using the 
cello as a different medium isj 
beautifully scored. It can easily be 
lost on uninitiated hearers unless, 
as with Piatigorsky, they are ver 
bally told some of the secrets. Even ; 
then many of the delicate nuances 
were lost in the large hall. While 
the Brahms seemed welded to-; 
gether, the Debussy seemed to hang 
by a filmy web, gaining beauty: 
through its very transparency. 

The light numbers on the pro- 
gram Saint Saens Allegro Ap- 
passionata, the Hora Stacatto (an 
encore) and the Paganini Varia 
tions on * Theme were pure vir 
tuosity and one did not become ab 
sorbed .by the music, but by the 
player, by his command of the in- ! 
strument, by his magic of making 
the big heavy cello into a delicate 
violin. It was the mastery of the! 
virtuoso, and incidentally the mu- 1 
sic, that came across the Spotlights. ; 

Gregor Piatigorsky is writing a 
philosophical book, due to come out 
this year. It will be interesting to | 
get a glimpse into the mind of at 
musician who has traveled the 
world over. 


An article in two parts 

b V 

Claude Kenneson 

Margaret Rowell s Teaching 

CLAUDE KENNESON is Professor of Music at the university of Alberta 
and is cellist of the University of Alberta String Quartet. He is 
the founder-director of the Cello Institute at the Banff School of 
Fine Arts. After reading his early pedagogical writings, Casals 
described him as "remarkable in interpreting my ideas, my credo in 
music." Professor Kenneson has written several books and is a 
contributor to such journals as The Instrumentalist, The Strad, the 
Canadian Music Educator, and the American String as well as 
CSTA N otes. He is well known as a cellist in Morth America, Great 
Britain, and Europe where critics have called him "an incredibly 
exuberant, artistic personality." 


Pablo Casals once remarked to his cello 
class that "color, variety and proportion are 
the elements of artl" For the better part of 
a century, (the longevity of his musical life 
leaves us aghast) he entreated a legion of 
pupils to use the power of imagination and to 
seek that which was "basic, simple and 
elemental." 1 This was his credo in music- 
making and its principles supported his life 
long intention to help illuminate and civilize 
the world in which he lived. Like many great 
masters, he delivered a message that all 
talented pupils recognized intuitively and 
one to which they responded with a certain 
natural felicity. Even in his absence from 
the musical world, these principles are 
projected and imprinted upon the fabric of 
contemporary musical life attesting to the 
vitality of his ideas and to the depth of his 

In retrospect, we see that this credo 
attended his unique innovative ability 
throughout the continuum of his own life. In 
his case we witness a man who was essentially 
self-taught. He did not benefit .from the 
type of pedagogy or the quality of personal 
attention that is taken so much for granted 
in our modern institutions. Perhaps due to 
this circumstance his own life was lived in 
a dynamic, supercharged state of self -directed 
learning. Ke selectively accepted only those 
pupils who could satisfy his criterion. This 
must have been an awesome task for him since 
his generosity of spirit led him so directly 
to a life of service to others. He excluded 
beginners from his class and directed them 
to other specialized pedagogues. Yet he 
taught each pupil as though he were a beginner 
searching for that which is basic, simple and 
elemental. He accomplished these ends while 
sustaining a protocol arising from a genuine 
respect for the individual. Since he himself 
studied the Suites of Bach in an incredibly 
searching manner for more than eight decades , 
his quest for understanding became an intrinsic 
element in his life. His "method" was indeed 
based on a noble pursuit. 

He yoked his pedagogical approach to 
certain materials that may now seem rather 
remote to us, but he found an avenue of 
expression in his playing and teaching that 
had both clarity and probity. At times when 
he found himself alienated from specific 
style periods and from the musical creations 
of his peers, he developed a significant 
rationality regarding his own attitude. This 
kind of daring was inherent in the character 
of the man. His domain was not the world of 
Schoenberg or Bartok, but elsewhere in the 
classical art of the older masters such as 
Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. He was not alone 
in this. 

In formulating an approach to teaching 
we can look to Casals credo for a plan of 
action. First we must recognize that which 
is basic, simple and elemental; then we must | 
relate that recognition to pedagogics that 
will allow the learner to experience cello 
playing as an activity operating as Nature 
intended. This is not an easy task. Few 
will be able to say explicitly what causes 
the transformation of pupils engaged in a 
pursuit of elemental knowledge and the use 
of biologically natural means. Their metamor 
phosis is not always amenable to verbalizatio 
Much of this body of information forms an 
important tacit dimension 2 of our understand; 

The "Element of Play" (as it was 
recently discussed) along with Gallwey s 
"Inner Game" and Havas "New Approach" ara 
part of an enormous complex that comprises 
modern pedagogy. For those who still resort 
to the dogmas of past centuries, there car. b 
_a startling revelation in the investigation 
"of the work of Margaret Rowel 1, the astonish 
master teacher at the San Francisco Ccnserv- 
atory. Linked by tradition to two Belgian 
cellists, Horace Sritt and Stanislaus 3em, 
influenced by her study with Demetrius Dcur.i 
and finally inspired and reinforced by -.-.e 
observation of kato Havas , Margaret Rowell - 
currently at the forefront of contemporary 



pedagogues. Her pupils begin to emerge 

representative young artists and 
aiers of our period and she herself becomes 
in rally known through an expanded teaching 
ihiule that occupies her on two continents. 

Her approach to string pedagogy 
rests us in part because it verifies a 
-.efiis of the traditional and the 
roversial. As a point of departure in her approach, one might simply 
snt that no Rowell pupil ever hears her 
jte a sustained callistic performance, 
ig the lessons there is no demonstration 
jr personal cellistic prowess. Yet every 
11 pupil DOES EXPERIENCE her ability as 
Llist. While her pupils may not be able 
srbalize her principles because many of 
exist in a tacit dimension of under 
ling, nor even be willing to discuss the 
iLe detail of her masterful interpretive 
5 regarding a late Sonata by Beethoven 
iise of the ineffable quality of the 
jjht processes involved, each one of them 
vs more than they can tell us" and each 
;ias in his own way received the most 
licit message from her. We might also 
. that her pupils run the gamut of age, 
irience, aptitude and vocation. 



a of 

t y$ 

I .- ! 



Like other modern teachers with whom 
identified, Margaret Rowell began her 
s:al career as a performer. As a concert 
.ist she was a member of the Arion Trio 
iEor ten years was a frequent performer on 
:i- : ie:adio network of NBC in America. Somewhat 
-.- she directed her undivided attention to 
^investigation and application of pedagogy. 
js seeking that which is"basic, simple 
-sleaental", she arrived at a richly 
ijned system of pedagogics that remains 
:ide the mainstream of orthodoxy. 
"jugh an outgoing and cultivated person 
;ssing a colorful personality and many 

Lbutes of the extrovert, she is truly 
:inoisseur of her own inner world. There 
&.iany signs that man may be undertaking a 
-jmatic exploration of the vast, 

rfectly-kncwn universe of his own being. 
M jsteLs a leader in this exploration. 


She has developed the ability to look 
le herself, to focus her attention inward 
itListen for those exquisitely soft signals 
la the untrained ear cannot hear. This 
IT. of awareness of self seems to lead 
irrtly to the regulation of musicianship. 
; .e recognition of this internal world may well 
iisst each of us in gaining a new control. 
:i surse many artists act on a very special 
.-trsnal knowledge, an intuition. It seems 
;i icomplete notion to hold that all is exclusively rational. With 
rinret Rowell the intuitive process seems 
i.-8 rganic act of selection and improvisation. 
: ae<ould agree with the late Albert Einstsin 
:t& "the really valuable thing is intuition." 
.-iriret Rowell is an intuitive teacher. 

. Perhaps the most remarkable single 
mity of her teaching is her ability to 
-3t the player to bridge the otherwise 
scited inner worlds of individuals. In 
*s leaching there develops an expression 


that leaps directly from the mind of the 
cellist through his movement gestures into 
the awareness of the listener. She has very 
specific means for accomplishing this result. 
She has come to rely on an inherently musical 
and highly improvisatory type of study that 
is unusually brief in duration, highly 
compressed in content, and directly linked 
to the ideo-kinetic mandate of her teaching. 
That her relatively rare art exists as a daily 
practice in her studio needs to be stated as 
fact. That her pedagogics are not an isolated 
phenoraenl> but are indeed used by many of her 
followers is also an important matter of fact. 
She has become the leading protagonist of 
modern cello teaching and her insightful and 
expansive activity keeps her at the forefront 
of this movement. 

Much teaching that is manifest in a 
non-verbal approach does not draw exclusively 
on the traditional sources of didactic 
literature for our instrument, although that 
literature can be utilized and will function 
in a very significant manner. This essential 
consideration presents each of us with the 
grave responsibility of becoming highly 
selective in our choice of materials. It has 
been noted by Peter Rudolfi that in the case 
of the etude, the composer assumes the role 
of teacher and attempts to induce a particular 
idiomatic principle. 3 Seme cellist-composers 
have not been able to take into account such 
topical considerations as the fact that it is 
not generally known exactly how voluntary 
movements are engendered in cello playing, 
nor does each teacher understand from where 
the executive orders emanate , nor why they 
lose their mantle of awareness as a result of 
learning. It was often the case with our 
ancestral cellist-composers that the emotional 
dynamics of musical intervals and harmonic 
relationships experienced in the ear were 
subordinated to the technical procedure 
experienced in the fingers. In light of 
contemporary thought, this subordination 
invalidates the usefulness of much of our 
didactic literature. However, such music is 
currently in the hands of many pupils and is 
engendering the same fateful syndrome as it 
always has . 

Can we not look for new ways of trans 
mitting our knowledge and begin a systematic 
abandoning of that study material which has 
no efficacy? Margaret Rowell has done this 
in her teaching. She creates new means of 
implementation of her pedagogics through the 
use of a very specialized, improvisatory 
etude. Rather than relegate her pupils to 
the practice room drill of unbridled 
repetition, she has found a more telling way 
of inducing specific idiomatic principles. 
She has discovered through her own empirical 
teaching experience and the observation of 
other teachers a way of elaborating the 
principles, for instance. In their transformed 
state, they appear in her improvisatory etudes. 
If she does transmit such vital information, 
and if it is indeed embodied in an improvisatory 
etude, and if she herself does not perform the 
model on the cello so that it can be learned 
by imitation and if she does not verbalize 
it then how exactly does she proceed? I will 


attempt to describe the process and to 
discuss it briefly. 

In accord with natural order, she 
relies on the use of idiologs that are 
manifest in her own mind. By nature these 
idiologs are very brief in duration, exist 
ing only fleeting ly in real time. They can 
be physically gestured in seconds, transmitted 
by touch, understood and remembered for a 
lifetime by the pupil. In this respect her 
aporoach agrees with the Casals credo in that 
it" is basic, simple and elemental. This is 
worthy of our most serious consideration. 

The "method" depends on several things. 
First of all the teacher must himself possess 
the idiolog whether it be sensory (the idea 
of a sound, sight or touch) , affective (the 
idea of an emotion such as joy or sorrow) or 
kinetic (the idea of a movement). Secondly, 
the idiolog must be transmitted. In the case 
of cello playing, this can be done through 
touch and/or movement. Finally, the player 
must have an effective system of retrieval 
once he himself possesses the idiolog. In 
this instance, the power of words becomes 
important in the sense that a monosyllabic 
command can become the triggering device for 
those idiologs stored in the memory. 

The improvisatory etudes conceived by 
Margaret Rowell embody certain musical 
elements that will filicit the appropriate 
response in the pupil. Their architecture is 
sometimes scalic, sometimes dramatically non- 
scalic. The musical literature that we perform 
as cellists is thus variable and constructed in 
our minds as idiologs of sensation, emotion and 
movement. The Rowell etudes are never to be 
"imagined". They are experiential in char 
acter. They become deeply understood entire 
ly through the vivid delivery by the teacher 
and their emergence in the mind of the pupil 
as a real, tangible possession. That the 
cello technique can be built on this basis in 
the studio is one of the means that allows her 
pupils to perform in a way that is truly ideo- 
kinetic. The inner ear hears (idiolog) and 
directs the body to action (kinetics) . The 
power of communication that arises from this 
process is largely due to the genuiness of the 
idiologs and the pupil s ability to organi 
cally combine them into larger structures. 
The more closely the retrieved form is to the 
"pure" or ideal form initially learned, the 
greater the possibility of powerful, direct 
communication. It should not be misunderstood 
that these etudes are merely arabesques or 
diversions from the seemingly more "serious" 
didactic works from the past such as the 
etudes of Dotzauer or Grutzmacher. They 
furnish the backbone of the technique. 
Although they comprise only one aspect of the 
materials used by Margaret Rowell, they are 
entities that can now be shared by other 
teachers as their structures and uses are 

The delivery of the idiolog to the 
pupil is often done without recourse to 
language. They are transmitted through the 
sense of touch and through an act of touching. 
By this fact alone, they gain a certain 

polarity with the verbalized "How To" instruct 
ions so prevalent in orthodox pedagogy. Theij 
transmission is subject to what our scientifii] 
colleagues might refer to as double data 
processing. That is to say, they become rein 
forced by more than one sensory modality. 
What is seen, heard, touched, felt as emotion 
and acted out in movement finally gains the 
awareness that gives the experience totality. 

Because of their very nature, these 
idiologs can be successfully delivered throug 
"the element of play" . One might consider a 
typical kinetic idiolog and its transmission. 
It can be transmitted in the context of a gam 
The teacher stands by the pupil s side and 
transmits the idea of movement by touching th 
pupil s bow arm as it performs the figure. A 
effective variation on this occurs when the 
teacher actually bows the figure on the pupil 
cello while the pupil touches the teacher s 
moving arm. A non-instrumental guise can be 
the playful one of miming the idiolog with no 
bow in hand. 

This latter variation brings us to the 
use of our interdisciplinary knowledge, gives 
us freedom to perform in yet another art fora 
and consequently releases us from the complex 
"end-gaining" syndrome that is so much a part 
of our tradition. When we utilize mime, for 
instance, we concentrate our attention on a 
different vehicle of expression, but one that 
utilizes many of the same means as cello 
playing. That the miming is not mimicry is a 
important point. As well the element of plaj 
must also be understood as a means appropriat 
to all pupils regardless of age or achievemer 

Before further consideration of the 
differences between transmitting the kinetic 
idiolog through cello playing per se as oppo 
to transmitting it through a mimed gesture, 
should turn our thoughts to mime itself. Th: 
will refresh our understanding of some of its 
tenets. Mime deals with expressive forms, nc 
mimicry. It must not be confused with panto 
mime which is a play of pretense because mini 
is an art form that is motivated in a genuim 
ideo-kinetic manner. It does not intend to 
draw empty pictures in the air in some form <i, 
pretense, but rather it "will produce a succ " 
essful attitude which is like a condensed 
drama: perfect, complete, an image epitcmiz 
identity, origin, destination, and intent. 
outline or path taken by the gesture i 
incisive and direct. Preceded by an opening 
sign, it ends in a punctuation pause which 
prevents the gesture from melting into space 
Thus defined, the gesture is thrown into rel 
stands out from the rest, and falls into its 
proper place, as a part of the whole." 4 

In his essay, "The Poetic Halo", Marc. 
Marceau has said that "a gesture is not suff: 
ient; it needs to be clothed in a thought. 
And the drawing which expresses this thought , 
must be accurate." Later in that same essay ; 
he makes a remarkable comment which I wish t; , 
paraphrase by substituting the term "cellist 
for his term "actor-mime" so that the though 
is conveyed in this way: "When the (cellist 
sustains his action with the inspiration of 
his thought, the sensitive response he indues 

- 5 - 

echo of his soul, and the thought 
s a silent inner song. " 5 

With such serious words on the art of 
-is, how does one justify the playful spirit 
fine element of play? The element of play 
,:-05 not concern itself with the content of 
: h art form, but rather serves as an instru- 
;: of implementation. One might well ask 
u Tim Gailwey can discuss the frightening 
eie of danger, the fear of falling, in his 
pc, Inner Skiing, 6 in the terms of a "game" 
Tsihere anything playful about these "life 
n death" encounters with art or sport? 
,osrn pedagogy is attempting to answer this 
"ii of question. 


:< : 

Let us examine a typical improvisatory 
used by Margaret Rowell and begin to 
in the realm of the idiolog. Perhaps we 
laid begin with a kinetic idiolog that is 
Eul in establishing a bowing skill. We 
need a decisive and brief musical figure 
as /-. 

The configuration of the bow movement 
nthis case can range from a simple attack- 
:iase with changing arm levels. The possib- 
j ity for improvisation is great and the idiolog 
..a take on different modes of expression by 
"Stations of dynamics, rhythm, tempo, texture 
.etimbre and each improvisation can be trans 
lated by direct physical contact with the 
"Mil 1 s bow arm. 

The implementation can be varied as well 
. relieving the pupil different degrees of 
IJisical activity ranging from a quasi-passive 
pding" on the teacher s movement to an almost 
cive, self -directed movement. Eventually, 
idiolog will be in the possession of the 
Jiyer and then will be made automatic and 
iatitual through his own will to retrieve it 
..|fided by the teacher. 

At any point, the teacher may infuse the 
"l-,ie with the element of play. One means to 
end is a non-instrumental one utilizing 

The treatment of the idiolog is constant. 
hie miming the gesture, the idiolog. is not 
lagined" but experienced. It is always 


motivated by a genuine ideo-kinetic impulse. 
It will still have as its genesis the musical 
image shown in the previous example. What will 
be present in the experience is a sense of 
release from the end-gaining attitude of cello 
playing per se. The element of play will over 
whelm the immediate, unintelligent gratification 
that comes from perfection seeking. With the 
use of the element of play, we add something 
powerful to the ingredients of the experience, 
i.e., an expression through another art form 
such as mime, for instance. The experience 
infused with the element of play may allow the 
pupil to give a different concentration to the 
means and abandon any undue regard for the 
achievement of a "perfect result". 

If this seems enigmatic when expressed 
in this way, perhaps one can recall some of 
the countless examples of end-gaining involved 
in orthodox methods where the athletic 
exercising of segmented movements becomes 
a goal in itself and the pursuit of a gestalt 
experience involving the totality of the player 
is lost. Very often the act of assembling such 
segmented movements into a technique is cause 
for the utter frustration of artistry. We 
learn over and over again that the sum of the 
parts may not be equal to the whole. To remind 
us of this fact in my own studio, we enjoy a 
very nice Humpty-Dumpty drawing which hangs on 
the wall. "Human nature" has decreed that some 
pupils understand its implication very deeply 
and others not at all. 

We move towards unification of our 
procedures in order that we may attain a new 
awareness. Perhaps this act can be guided by 
Casals credo and as we approach that which is 
basic, simple and elemental, we may be able to 
look within ourselves and hear those inner 
signals that promise so much, to listen and 
hear Marcel Marceau s "silent inner song". We 
may become one with our musical imagery. 
Writing of the experiences attainable by skiing 
the inner slopes of self, Tim Gailwey says 
in the Afterword of his new book Inner Skiing 
that "this place of perfect peace has always 
been within us waiting to be sought, but it can 
be enjoyed only by those who have recognized 
the limitations of seeking this satisfaction 
externally". 7 With this thought let us hold 
firmly to the promise of "Inner Cello Playing" 
and the remarkable insights it may bring us. 




I 2. 


I 3 " 


- 4. 
\ 5. 




Claude Kenneson, "Casals in California", American String 
Teachers Journal, Volx X, No. 3, p. 26. 

Michael Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension, New York: Doubleday 
and Co., Inc., 1966, pp. 1-25. 

Peter Rudolf i, "Pedagogical Principles in Annotations of 
Popper s Etudes, Op. 73" (unpublished M. Mus. essay, 
University of Alberta, 1975), p. 64. 

Jean Oorcy, The Mime, New York: Robert Speller and Sons, 
Inc., 1961, p. 32. 

Ibid, p. 103. 

Timothy Gailwey (with Bob Kriegel) , Inner Skiing, New York: 
Random House, Inc., 1977, Chapter IV. 


2-S * Oakland Tribune, Sunday, Oct. 9, 1960 

She Also Cooks... 

The music she herself has made for thousands of listen 
ers is not as important to Margaret Avery Rowell as the 
fact that she has helped young people create their own. 

Her career as a musician began when she was a Techni 
cal High School student, where she started to play the cello 
at the age of 13. "I began with Herman Trutner Jr. there," 
she recalls, "he was my Inspiration for studying. 

"And it was three of us from Tech who started the Arion 
Trio on NBC." 

The famed trio played on tour in the South Seas, but 
otherwise she has followed her career mostly in this state. 
She was also with the KGO Little Symphony, and has been 
soloist for the Orpheus Club and for groups throughout 

Now assistant professor of music at San Francisco State 
College, she was on the Mills faculty for five years, instruct 
ing in cello, and besides this teaches cello and chamber 
music for the University of California Extension Division 

and does what private 
teaching she has time 

"What I enjoyed most, 
I think," she said, "was 
the two summer schools 
.in chamber music at 
Mills for young people 
among the 22 who at 
tended so many went 
on ahead. There was 
Hiro Imamuro, who just 
got the Pacific Musical 
Society prize in piano, 
Justin Blasdale, who s 
played piano twice in 
the San Francisco Sym 
phony s young people s 
concerts, and cellists 
.like Steve Gebhart, 
Kathleen Johnson, Su 
san Minor, all prize 


"I m interested in giv 
ing students the same 
start whether they re 

going to be professionals or not, so they can always enjoy 
their chamber music." 

She herself studied with Horace Britt, solo cellist of the 
San Francisco Symphony who now is in charge of chamber 
music for the University of Texas, and the late Stanislaus 
Betnr among others. Although she says she is "not much of 
a belonger," she s been a board member of the Alameda 
County Music Teachers, is a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, 
professional music honor society, Amphion Club, California 
Cello Club, the Berkeley Piano Club. She and her husband, 
retired U.C. Prof. Edward Z. Rowell, belong to the Sierra 
Club, and their summer trips are the Rowells greatest rec 
reation. Her father, the late Lewis B. Avery, was assistant 
superintendent of the Oakland Schools, and the library in 
the administration building is named in his honor. 

She followed her career while also being a wife am 
mother her son, Galen Avery Rowell, now being a U.C 
student. (She, incidentally, received her degree there ii 
music and sociology.) But her homemaking duties may hav< 
influenced her career, because she insists: 

"I think it s awfully hard for a woman to enter the fiel 
as a concert performer, but to be able to earn her living i 
some way in which she can also be in her home is excellent 
Because I think a woman is putting things wrong end to 
she merely goes after a solo career and foregoes marriage 
I believe that living a full, normal life is much more impoi 
tant than going after the prizes unless you re so endowe , 
that you just must go to it." 

The Rowells entertain frequently, and she wishes she ha 
time for more. She does the cooking "I love to cook. It 
the greatest relaxation I can ask for, and my recipes ai 
practically all my own concoctions, subject to consta 

Her favorite, an omelette, so far has no name. It s ma< 
like this: 

For each person use 1 egg, 2 tablespoons milk, a pin 
salt, and beat lightly. On the table, have an electric fryi 
pan going at 360 degrees, well buttered. Pour in egg mixtui 
topped with about 4 cup crab (fresh or canned), 4 c 
celery chopped in thin slices, jack or sharp cheese in sm 
pieces. As soon as omelette begins to brown, roll top ov 
gently with pancake turner, (like jelly roll to keep the filli! 
in), let sit in pan about 2 minutes till all ingredients heat a I 
blend. Mrs. Rowell often puts in grated raw zucchini, or t. 
sliced water chestnuts; sometimes adds 1 teaspoon soy sai> 
diluted with 2 tablespoons water. Instead of crab, she rr 
use thin slices of ham or beef; sometimes she adds en opt. 
tomatoes "any combination I want," says the culm; 

Variations on a theme by Rowell. KAY WAH 






[ ;r> ---~ * 

** in***. 

Ijhry-five cellists filled the Hellman Hall stage Saturday afternoon for the tribute 

A Birthday Tribute to 
a Master Teacher 


By Robert Commanday 

. The Bay Area is the cello center of the nation, and 
the reason for it was paid an extraordinary birthday 
tribute Saturday afternoon at the San Francisco 

Conservatory. Eighty cell 
ists actually, 80 plus five 
to grow on crowded 
onto the stage of Hellman 
Hall and serenaded Marga 
ret Rowell, the master 

Rowell has been inspi 
ration, guide and source of 
love and energy to many 
times 80, plus an untold 
number more through her 
master classes around the 
country and the teachers 
she has taught Saturday 
some of that flowed back 
to her. 

First It came in sheer 
tone, the noble sound of 85 
cellists, playing under Den 
nis de Coteau, arrange 
ments of Bach (the "Break 
Forth" and "Passion" cho 
rales, Air, Sarabande and 
Gavottes from the D major Cello Suite). Thrown in for 
fun was a Tambourin by Giardini (elephants dancing). 

Next came a screening of Rowell on a video docu- 

Aon.. Dec. 8, 1980 San JrnnKt (Qpwtdr 61 

An inspiration 

mentary made some nine years ago, "Prelude to String 
Playing." The audience chuckled as the figure on the 
screen described those principles, exercises and the 
homely teaching props most of those present had 
learned from her and were still using. The part of her 
big "family" that was there re-lived something dear as 
they watched her demonstration with student subjects 
a tiny, serious, adept Sophie Lau (then 7), Emmanuel 
Vakatos (17), Carol Morrow (15). 

There were her teaching metaphors, the "tripod" 
position or "bear hug" of the instrument, the "baby 
clutch" grip, the "grasshopper," the "finger-fall," the 
"swan." "The powerhouse is in the back, with the 
electric current flowing to the fingertips," she said, 

"The artist controls, is in charge of that plant" 
Summing up, she returned to her "ultimate principles 
of the great simplicities: beautiful tone, true rhythm, 
clear intonation and musical understanding." 

No tribute to Rowell would be complete without 
Bonnie Hampton, her outstanding pupil, but long since 
her teaching colleague and a distinguished artist. 
Hampton, with violinist David Abel and pianist Nathan 
Schwartz in other words, the Francesco Trio gave 
a glorious, affirming performance of the Brahms B 
major Piano Trio, first movement. Carol Morrow, now 
about 24 and working towards her masters degree at 
the conservatory, with Julie Nishimura at the piano, 
gave an intense, secure and vivid account of Ginastera s 
"Pampeanas No. 2." 

Before the audience adjourned to the cake and 
refreshments in the lobby, Margaret Rowefl was 
brought on to the stage, radiant as she responded to her 
80th birthday gift, "There s no more beautiful sound in 
the world, a sound that would send us into outer 
space ... I just jump out of bed every morning and say 
Look, Fm still here!" " 

INDEX - Margaret Avery Rowell 


Abramowitsch, Bernard, 217 
Adams, Mrs. George Plimpton, 198 
Adler, Kurt Herbert, 283-284 
Alameda County Music Teachers 

Association, 284-286 
Alaska, 1933, 29-31 
Albro, Maxine, 285 
Alexander, Elizabeth, 138, 141-142 
Alexander [P.M.] Technique, 128 
Allen, Cathy, 233, 281-282 
American String Teachers Assocation 
award to Rowell, 1977, 140, 162 
and Suzuki Method, 152-155, 277 
workshops, 276-278, 288 
Anderson, Nick, 304-305, 312 
Anthony, Susan B., 200-201 
Arion Trio 

coaching, 56 

dress, 49-50, 100 

during Depression, 135-139 

formation, 38-39 

hotel engagements, 40-42, 81 

members, 38-39, 43-49, 95, 98-99, 


name , 47 
radio broadcasting, 29-30, 99-113 

passim, 132-134 
South Seas trip, 108, 112 
trio form, 50-51 
World War I, playing for soldiers, 


at Yosemite, 187-191 
Aschow, John, 65-67 
Auer, Leopold, 148, 187, 217 
Avery, Betty, 19-20 
Avery, Harold Tolman, 1-23 passim, 

34, 125 

Avery, Lewis Burtis, 1-23 passim, 
29-32, 34-36, 65-66, 70, 72-73, 
92, 143-144, 191, 201 
Avery, Louise (Mrs. Howard 

Kirtland), 1-18 passim, 200 
Avery, Marie Tolman, 1-23 passim, 

40, 58, 93-94, 96, 107-108, 142 
Avery, Marion, 1-23 passim, 31-32, 
63, 75-76, 143-144, 179-185, 285 

Bacon, Ernst, 286-287 
Bacon, Madi, 235-236, 286-287 
Baez, Joan, 194 

Barthelson, Joyce, 40, 43, 46-48, 
72, 92-94, 99, 104, 138-139, 
141, 144, 296-297, 316 
Beaux Arts Trio, 43, 178 
Bern, Stanislaus, 29, 31, 61, 63, 

67, 87-88, 93-95, 98-99 
Bentwich, Norman, 216 
Berkeley, California 
Co-op, 268 

First Unitarian Church, 191-192 
musical community, 148-149, 175- 

177, 253-255 
Police Department, 79 
Sahlbach gardens, 214 
schools, music in, 37, 86 
1750 Arch St., music group, 253 
Unitarian Fellowship, 191-195, 


Young People s Symphony, 250 
Berkeley Cello Club. See California 

Cello Club 
Berkeley Piano Club, 
236, 309 

173, 176, 217, 

Bijlsma, Anner, 
Bishop, Stephen, 
Blaney, Isabella 
Blinder, Naoum, 
Bliss, Arthur, 
Bloch, Ernest, 
Boy den, David, 
Brand, Ralph, 
Brico, Antonia, 
Bridges, Harry, 

258, 271 


38, 56 

168, 175, 177 

Britt, Horace, 59-64, 87 

Brown, Annie Florence, 37 
Bull, Ole, 5 

Burtis, Sarah Anthony, 200 

Caen, Estelle, 286 
Caldwell, Kay, 139, 204 


California Cello Club, 225, 235- 

237, 243, 259, 262, 269, 271- 

274, 304 

camping, equipment, 18-23 
Canin, Stuart, 242 
Carmel, California, 9, 23-24, 41 
Caruso, Enrico, 59 
Casals, Pablo, 55-56, 63, 87-90, 

104, 106, 199, 223-226, 270-271, 

Casals International Festival, 

Xalapa, Mexico, 1959, 263-271 
Casals Master Class, UC Berkeley, 

127, 257-260, 272-273, 286 
Cassado, Caspar, 88, 270 

instrument, 65-69 
music for, 45, 53, 131, 229-231 
"naturals," 89-91, 98 
popularity, 88-89, 274-276 
Chuchro, Josef, 271 
Church, Wilda Wilson, 100-102 
Claudio, Mary, 224 
Clement, Ada, 168 
Cleveland Quartet, 69, 237 
Cohen, Joel, 251-252 
Commanday, David, 277 
Commanday, Robert, 274 
Cope, Raymond, 191-192 
Cowell, Henry, 284-286 
Craig, Bob, 303 
Cravero, Aurora, 95, 98-99 
Crutcher, Ron, 123-124, 126 
Curry, Mary, 187, 189-190 
Curry Company. See Yo Semite 
Gushing, Charles, 167-168 

Damrosch, Walter, 132 

Danielson, Juna, 204 

De Coteau, Denis, 249, 261 

Dehe , Wilhelm, 87 

De Kayser, Joanna, 127 

Depression, 107, 134-136 

De Vries, Linni, 271 

Dewey, John, philosophy, 10, 17, 

26, 70, 84 

diabetes, insulin treatment, 11-13 
Dickson, Owen, 169, 175 
Duckies, Madeline, 202, 305-306 
Du Pre , Jacqueline, 233, 281 

earthquake and fire, 1906, 8 
Einstein, Hans Albert, 214-216 
Eisenberg, Maurice, 270 
Elkus, Albert, 176-177, 205 
Elkus, Elizabeth, 205 
Elman, Mischa, 88 
Eloesser, Leo, 267-269 

Feuermann, Emmanuel, 228 

Field, Sara Bard, 46, 138-139 

Finkelstein, Louis, 217 

Firestone, Nathan, 59 

Carl Fischer Company, 43, 297 

Flanders, Mary, 221 

Flanders, Ned, 62, 221 

Ford, Louis, 59 

Forsythe, Carmel Yellin, 217 

Fournier, Pierre, 123, 234, 254, 

Frankenstein, Alfred, 275 

Galwas, Jerry, 212 
Garabedian, Claire, 304 
Garbett, Arthur S., 132-133 
Garbousova, Raya, 294 
Garcia, Eva, 45 
Gardner, Robert, 298 
General Electric Co., and radio 

broadcasting, 92, 100-101 
Glass, Phyllis, 277 
Goard, Margaret, 173 
Goodspeed, Thomas, 27, 110 
Graham, Martha, 256-257 
Grant, Joanne, 307 
Grant, Stewart, 307 
Grebanier, Michael, 243 
Greenberg, Virginia, 296 
Greenhouse, Bernard, 245-246 
Griller Quartet, 173-176 
Griller, Sidney, 175 

Haderer, Walter, 154 
Hakel, Art, 80 
Haldane, J. B. S., 28-29 
Hale, Paul, 281 


Hampton, Bonnie Bell, 68, 72, 174- 
175, 199-200, 220, 223-227, 235, 
238, 242, 252, 258-263, 270-272, 

Hampton, Colin, 174-175, 258, 260, 
272, 300 

Hays, Pearl White, 86 

Hayes, Peggy (Margaret Calder 
Hayes), 204-205 

Hertz, Alfred, 59 

Hiller, Mrs. Stanley, 254 

Hodgeshead, Lillian, 168 

Hof f-Barthelson School of Music, 
Scarsdale, New York, 296 

Holm, Einar Jeffrey, 235-237 

Holub, Josephine, 47, 51 

Homan, Glen, 156 

Hornabrook, Jean, 245 

Hovas, Kato, 290-291 

Howe, Winifred, 172 

Hunkins, Sterling, 176 

Kluksdahl, Scott, 67, 233-234, 283 
KLX, Oakland, California, 113 
Krasoff, Wanda, 173 
Kreisler, Fritz, 216-217 
Krocber, Theodora, 199 

Leclerc, Gerard, 122-123, 234, 309, 


Lewis, Caroline, 281 
Lewis, Emily, 305-306 
Lewis, Rubin, 305-306 
Lieberman, Jim, 247 
Lincoln Highway, 21-22 
Lind, Jenny, 59 
Logan, Beulah, 176 
Los Angeles, California, 42, 60, 

Los Gatos, California, Withy Ranch, 

Loughman, Mike, 212 

Imbrie, Andrew W. , 53-55 
concerto, 233, 281-282 
Ingohlsson, Mirjam, 299 
Institute for Human Potential, 156 
International Musicians Congress of 
Strings, 228-229 

Japanese Relocation, WWII, 20 
Jones, Mary Cover, 205 
Jordan, David Starr, 9, 11, 57, 143 
Juilliard School, New York City, 

68, 162, 233, 239-241, 245, 297- 

Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 

Berkeley, California, 253 
Junior Bach Festival, Berkeley, 

California, 248-251 
Keeler, Charles, 179 
Keeler, Eloise, 179-185 
Keeler, Leonarde, 78, 179-185 
Kell, Sally, 247-249, 262, 279 
Keller, Helen, 145-146 
Kennison, Claude, 290-291 
KGO, Oakland, California, 92, 95, 

100-101, 145 

KGO Little Symphony, 86, 132, 135 
Kirtland, Louise. See Avery, Louise 

Magg, Fritz, 294-295 

Mannes School, New York City, 245- 


Mantel, Gerhard, 271 
Marcelli, Jessica, 250 
Matson Lines, 108, 112 
Mead, Sedgwick, 194-195 
Menuhin, Yehudi, 38 , 48 , 59, 274 
Miller, Alice, 176 
Miller, Phyllis, 252 
Mills College, Oakland, California, 

38, 177, 198, 247-248 
music at, 177, 198, 247-248, 257, 


Mills, Elizabeth, 277 
Mitchell, Sidney, 214 
Monteaux, Pierre, 59 
Moor he ad, Anne Rowel 1, 197 
Morris, Mrs. 0. E., 41-42 
Morrow, Carol, 68, 238-241, 249, 


auditioning, 242-244 
cello, instrument, 65-69 
chamber music, quartets, 119, 
148-149, 176-178, 253-255, 


music (continued) 

chamber music, trios, 50, 51, 

177, 178 

composing, 54, 97 
concert halls, San Francisco area, 

family pressures, 69-72, 154, 

157, 164-165, 224 
memorizing, 63 
recordings, 39, 88 
teaching. See Rowell, Margaret 
Avery. See San Francisco 

Musicians Against Nuclear Weapons, 


Musicians Union, San Francisco, 
136, 141-142 

National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 

44, 55, 101, 108 
announcers, 102 
Hunter-Doolin Building, 111 

Sutter St., San Francisco, 
99, 114 

programs, 103-104 
Standard School Broadcast, 99, 

132-135, 185 

studio audiences, 102-103 
National Cello Institute, Pomona, 

California, 123, 306 
Navarra, Andre , 270 
Nelsova, Zara, 50, 68, 250, 263- 

267, 270, 276 

New York School for Strings, 297 
Nicolsen, Carol, 44 
Nuclear Freeze Initiative, 1982, 

Oakland, California 
Athens Club, 108 
Auditorium Theater, 95 
black choral group, 138-139 
Home of Truth, Ebell Hall, 114 
Maitland Theater, 64 
Plymouth Congregational Church, 

schools, 1914, music in, 35-38, 

58, 70, 72-73 

Oakland, California (continued) 
Technical High School, 35-38, 47, 

Oakland Symphony, 53, 247-249, 251, 

281-282, 306 
Youth Orchestra, 238, 249-250 

Odhner, Ellen, 225, 271-272, 284 

Odnoposoff, Adolf o, 270 

Olshausen, Vernez, 305-306 

O Neil, Blanche, 37 

Palmer, Albert W. , 13-17 
Palmer, Eileen, 233 
Panama-Pacific Exposition, San 

Francisco, 1915, 56-61 
Pao, Sophie, 237-238 
Parent Teacher Association (PTA), 


Parnas, Leslie, 226, 247 
Peixotto, Jessica, 84 
Persinger, Louis, 38, 56, 59 
Perstein, Arnold, 141 
Petray, Marjorie, 168 
Piatigorsky, Gregor, 89-90 
Pierce, Jennings, 102 
Pinckney, Ken, 244-247 
Planned Parenthood, 306 
Pleeth, William, 233, 281 
Plymouth Congregational Church, 13- 

Pomona College, National Cello 

Institute, 123, 306 
Popper, David, 104, 216 
Pro Arte Quartet, 59, 177 

Raab, Alexander, 143, 224 
radio broadcasting, 1920s, 1930s, 
44-45, 92-97, 102-104, 108, 112- 
113, 132-135, 145-146 
advertising, 101 
fans, audience, 102-103 
sound effects, 101 
studios, 99, 102-103, 114 
Rahm, Barbara Lull, 148-149, 176 
Redford, Robert, 312 
Redlands, California, 1900-1908, 2- 

3, 5-6, 8-9, 17, 24 
Reinhardt, Aurelia Henry, 38, 197 
Rejto, Gabor, 130 


Rhodehamel, Carl, 77, 132, 135-137 
Rich, Nancy, 308 
Rogin, Winifred, 198, 204 
Rolland, Paul, 34, 71, 153, 157- 

161, 215, 290 
Rose, Jerome, 236-237 
Rose, Leonard, 103, 105-106, 216, 


Rosen, Nick, 68 
Rosenberg, Marvin, 193 
Rosenquist, Anna Lou, 193-194 
Rosenquist, Willard V., 193 
Rostropovich, Mstislav, 53, 106, 

223, 260-271 passim, 276 
Rostropovich Cello Congress, 

Washington, D.C., 105-106, 
119, 123-124, 167, 216, 300 
Rostropovich Master Class, UC 

Berkeley, 250, 261 
Rowell, Edward Z., 45, 148, 152, 

185, 212-215, 218 
background, 186 
cataract operation, 169-172 
courting Margaret Avery, 142-145 
family man, 70, 186, 196-197, 

205-207, 210, 314 
illness, 161, 195, 212, 288 
professor of speech, 55, 140-142, 


Rowell, Galen, 131, 169-172, 186, 
192, 196-197, 205-215 passim, 

and geology, 8, 209-210, 213 
mountaineer, 182, 211-212, 218- 

220, 269, 300-303 
and music, 43, 69-70, 208-209, 


photographer, 159, 312-314 
writer, 54, 218, 303 
Rowell, Margaret Avery 

American String Teachers 

Association, 140, 162 
Grand Dame du Violoncelle, 291- 


bodywork, 126-128, 163-164 
botany, 26-29 
camping, hiking, 17-23, 70, 137, 

179-185, 190-191, 211-212 

introdoction to, 35-38, 316 

Rowell, Margaret A. (continued) 
cello (continued) 
relearning, 97-99 
teachers, 60-62, 87 
teaching, 116-178 passim, 221- 

300 passim 

workshops, 256-300 passim 
childhood, 1-13 
Christian Endeavor, 13-17, 72, 

college years, 46, 63, 72-85 

scheduling music and school, 


Communist Party, 136 
dance, movement, 125-128, 256-257 
diet, 96, 111-112, 134-135 
family. See Galen Rowell and 

Edward Z. Rowell 
friendships, 203-205, 218-220, 


influences. See Steiner, E. A.; 
Rhodehamel, Carl; Dewey, John; 
Palmer, Albert W. ; Haldane, 

J . B . S . 

musical influence, 56-63 
job, Maitland Theater, 64 
marriage, 140-148 

communication through, 81-83 
early impressions, 33-35 
"housewives quartet," 176 
thoughts on, 50-56 
ocean, and mountains, 23-26, 309- 


operation, 160-161 
peace movement, 198-203 
performing, fears, 62, 105-106 
politics, 46 

political sympathies, 135-139, 

Prelude to String Playing. 158- 


public speaking, 140-141 
race relations, 139-140 
radio broadcasting, 99-105, 108, 

113-115, 132-137 
religion, 79-81, 191-195 
right-left orientation, 6 
romances, 77-78, 136-137. See 
also Edward Z. Rowell 


Rowell, Margaret A. (continued) 
singing, 5, 7 
swimming, 41, 109 
teaching, 116-178 passim, 221- 
300 passim. See also 
individual students 

Alaska, 29-31 

flying, 30-31, 114, 288-289, 


South Seas, 73, 108-112 
tuberculosis, cure, 92-96 
video-taped lesson, San Francisco 

State University, 237 
See also Arion Trio, cello, music 
Rowell, Nicole, 212 
Rust, Rebecca, 252-253, 279 

Sadlo, Milos, 263, 265-266, 270-271 
Saier, Milton, 282-284 
Salkind, Milton, 241 
Sanford, Christine, 203-204, 210 
Sanford, Nevitt, 203-205 
San Francisco, California 
Chinatown, 28, 134 
General Strike, 109, 112, 135 
Hotel Cecil, 41-42 
1915 Exposition, 56-61 
public transportation, 113-114 
San Francisco Boys Chorus, 235 
San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 
71, 122-123, 149-150, 168, 177, 
205, 241-243, 262, 273, 281-282, 
294, 296-297 
San Francisco State University, 

music department, 149, 154, 237, 
San Francisco String Quartet, ca. 

1915, 59 

San Francisco Symphony, 38, 86, 269 
auditioning, 242-244 
cellists, with, 68, 89, 224, 259, 

1920s, 59-63 
and Standard School Broadcasts, 

San Jose, California, 1908-1913, 4, 

12, 24, 34 
San Quentin Prison, 84 

Santa Cruz, California, ca. 1919, 


Schaller, George, 312 
Schevill, Rudolph, 224 
Schroeder, Alvin, 90 
Schumann-He ink, Ernestine, 33 
Bellinger, Miriam, 108, 112 
Sessions, John, 166-167, 173-174 
Sessions, Roger, 148, 166-167, 173, 

283, 287 

Setchell, William A., 27, 110 
1750 Arch St., Berkeley, California, 


Shapiro, Eudice, 164 
Shapiro, Harvey, 239 
Sharp, Irene, 71, 88, 118, 123, 

140, 149, 155, 165, 227, 233, 

237-238, 251, 260-261, 290, 295- 

297, 309-310, 316-317 
Sharp, Robin, 71 
Sharp, Terry, 71, 260, 309-310 
Sharp, Wendy, 71 
Shelton, Peter, 242-243, 249 
Sierra Club, 182-183, 211 
Simmons, Calvin, 83 
Sinclair, Upton, 138-139 
Smith, Josephine, 285 
Spanish Civil War relief, 267-268 
Sproul, Robert Gordon, 186 
Standard School Broadcast, 99, 132- 

135, 185 
Starker, Janos, 202-203, 292-293, 

295, 310 

Stebbins, Lucy, 84 
Steigman, Ben, 43, 48 
Steindorff, Paul, 85-86 
Steiner, Edward Alfred, 72-73 
Stern, Isaac, 38, 156, 274 
Steward, Alexander, 17 
Stolz, Herbert, 143-144 
Stricklen, Edward G., 73-74, 85 
Suzuki, Sinchi, Suzuki Method, 10, 

34, 89, 151-158, 162, 164, 277, 

Swatsler, Lucinda Breed, 295, 308- 

Sweden, King Gustavus VI and Queen, 

in Yosemite, 188-189 


"Tanglewood," Berkshire Festival, 


Temianka, Henri, 148 
Thompson, Randall, 172 
Thorpe, Roslyn, 279 
Thow, Petty Waite, 308 
Tobias, Paul, 228-229, 231-232, 

241, 298-299 

Tolman, Edward Chase, 203 
Tolman, Mrs. Edward C., 198 
Tresidder, Donald B., 187-189 
Trumpler, Augusta, 192 
Trutner, Herman, Jr., 35-38, 46, 

61, 74 
tuberculosis, cure, 93-96 

Unemployed Exchange Association 

(UXA), 135-136 
Unitarian Fellowship, Berkeley, 

California, 191-195, 201-202 
United States Geological Survey 

(USGS), 7 

University of California 
Botanical Gardens, 27 
concert halls, 254 
criminology studies, 77-78 
economics studies, 84-85 
Music Department, 73, 85-86, 166- 

169, 172-177, 287 
Orchestra, 37, 54-55, 85, 282 
Parthenia, 86, 97 
race relations studies, 139-140 
Section Club, peace section, 198 
social services studies, 72-73 
Speech Department, 141 
Tri-Delt sorority, 75-77, 79 
University of California Extension 
Division, music extension, 89, 
259, 280-281, 286 

Walter, Bruno, 83, 126 
Weaver, Cecile Trumpler, 192 
Weaver, Harold, 192 
Weilerstein, Donald, 69-70, 236- 

236, 281 

Weilerstein, Ralph, 70, 268 
Weilerstein, Rose, 69-70, 213 
White, Julian, 287 
Whiteman, Paul, 81 
Wiener, Frances, 47, 59, 109, 134, 

144, 148 

Wilbur, Ray Lyman, 12-13 
Winold, Helga, 295 
Withy Ranch, Los Gatos, California, 

Wolthuis, Wilhelmina. See Antonia 

Women s International League for 

Peace and Freedom, 199, 216 
women s suffrage, 199-201 
Woods, Charles Erskine Scott, 138- 


Yellin, Margery, 216-217 
Yellin, Thelma, 216-217 
Yo Semite 

Curry Company, 18, 70, 187-189 
hiking in, 8, 17-19, 27, 70, 137, 

179-185, 211-212, 316 
royal audience for Arion Trio in, 

Ysaye, Eugene, 56, 59, 216 

Vacakis, Emanuel, 238 
Varga, Laszlo, 273 
Vigna, Frank, 101 
Villa Lobos, Hector, 263 
Vollmer, August, 77-79 

Wald, George, 117-118 
Wallenberg, Raoul, 315 

Suzanne Bassett Riess 

Grev up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 
Graduated from Goucher College, B.A. in 
English, 1957. 

Post-graduate work, University of London 
and the University of California, Berkeley, 
in English and history of art. 

Feature writing and assistant woman s page 
editor, Globe-Times , Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 
Free-lance writing and editing in Berkeley. 
Volunteer work on starting a new Berkeley 
newspaper . 
Natural science decent at the Oakland Museum. 

Editor in the Regional Oral History Office 
since I960, interviewing in the fields of 
art, cultural history, environmental design, 
photography, Berkeley and University history.